Culture & History

People, Arts and Culture


Zimbabwe offers you a unique and diverse culture to explore friendly people and rich culture. No matter where you go you will be surrounded by warm and hospitable people always wearing a smile and willing to lend a helping hand. The major cultural groups in Zimbabwe are the Shona and the Ndebele. The Shona people were the founders of Great Zimbabwe, the ancient capital city of the regional empire. Some 85 percent of Zimbabweans identify themselves as Shona. The Ndebele are the next largest group, comprising roughly 12 percent of the population. The Ndebele are an offshoot of the Zulu people, who split from the tribal group in the early 19th century. Other cultural groups found in Zimbabwe include the Shangaan, Venda Chewa and Tonga People. More than two-thirds of Zimbabweans speak Shona as their first language, while about one out of six speak Ndebele.

Both Shona and Ndebele are Bantu languages. From the time of their great southward migration, Bantu-speaking groups have populated what is now Zimbabwe for more than 10 centuries. Those who speak Ndebele are concentrated in a circle around Bulawayo, with Shona-speaking peoples beyond them on all sides—the Kalanga to the southwest, the Karanga to the east around Nyanga (formerly Fort Victoria), the Zezuru to the northeast, and the Rozvi and Tonga to the north. Generations of intermarriage have to a degree blurred the linguistic division between the Shona and Ndebele peoples.

Zimbabwe is made up of people of different traditions and beliefs who boast of a very rich, exciting, and diverse arts and cultural systems which include song and dance, pottery, basketry, textiles, jewelry, and stone carving. The country has excellent and globally acclaimed performing artists and sculptors. As a result, the country’s art products are among the finest African art one can find in the world. Zimbabwe is also renowned for its stone sculptures and wooden carvings. Some of Zimbabwe’s stone sculpture exhibitions are on display at Valley Arts in New Jersey (USA), New York’s Museum of Modern Arts; Chicago’s Field Museum of National History, Indianapolis Museum of Arts, and the British Museum, just to mention a few. Stone sculpture and wooden carvings are thriving forms of art in Zimbabwe and have their roots in our culture. The stone sculptures and wooden carvings portray powerful messages about life and can be in the form of people, animals, birds, etc.