Zimbabwe National Park

The People

Zimbabwe is a genuinely multicultural nation. Since Independence in 1980, once divided communities have slowly found ways to reconcile their differences, with the result that there is a comparative freedom from racism and tribalism which is envied throughout Africa.

The predominant ethnic group in Zimbabwe is the Shona, a people whose history in the region goes back many hundreds of years. Skilled in the smelting of iron, gold and copper, theirs was an advanced civilization long before the arrival of Europeans. The Shona have also lent their name to the school of sculpture which now has a world-wide reputation. In the southern and western districts, particularly the city of Bulawayo, are found the Ndebele, famous for their military skills in pre-colonial times, now thoroughly integrated into the social fabric of the modern republic.

Of pivotal importance to the history of the country is of course the white community, no longer running affairs from a position of unassailable privilege, but still vital in all aspects of economic life as well as the sporting and cultural scene. The concept of a white African may be hard for outsiders to comprehend, but Zimbabwe is unquestionably 'home' for almost all of these people. There is also a much smaller but no less vigorous Asian community.

Despite Zimbabwe's vibrant cities the countryside retains a deep hold on the nation's consciousness. Only one in four lives in a city, and very few of these forget their rural roots.

Despite the close relationship between town and country, a new generation of purely urban Zimbabweans is now emerging, their lives plugged into the rest of the world by satellites and an international press.

But out in the countryside, it is till possible t find thousands of villages which are little more than a cluster of grass-roofed huts, symbols of a close-knit community life.

Special thanks to the Zimbabwe Ministry of Enviornment and Tourism for providing this information.

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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