sounds around: Zimbabwe

official name:  Republic of Zimbabwe

capital:  Harare              location: 17°50′S 31°3′E

borders: Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique, and S. Africa

population: >12,973,808

currency: US Dollar & South African Rand

major exports: metals, textiles, and tobacco

popular sports: football(soccer), swimming, and rugby


As a teenager I first became aware of Zimbabwe, and a bit of it's history, through Bob Marley's song, "Zimbabwe". From that song, I understood that there had been a struggle for freedom by one group over another.

What I didn't know at the time was:

  1. The country had been called Rhodesia after Cecil J. Rhodes a businessman, founder and managing director in South Africa for the British South Africa Company. He is also the namesake of the famous Rhodes Scholarship.
  2. As Rhodesia, it was originally a British colony, then it was an independent country ruled by a white minority before a civil war ultimately returned rule to the majority in 1980.
  3. The name "Zimbabwe" was a name of a city from the 3rd centry A.D.
  4. The original inhabitants were the San Peoples, or Bushmen. A nomadic people who now live in the Kalihari desert west of Zimbabwe.

The People of Zimbabwe

In today's borders of Zimbabwe, there exist two major culture groups: The Shona, in the east and southeast of Zimbabwe and the Ndebele,in the west and south-west region of the country.

There are 16 official languages which include Shona, Ndebele and English. Both Shona and Ndebele are part of the Bantu language group.

Bob Marley singing the song "Zimbabwe" in Zimbabwe, for the official transfer of power from white minority rule as Rhodesia to the independent country of Zimbabwe. (1980) Click here for song lyrics.    


Shona Music

The music of the Shona people centers around an instrument called the Mbira, or thumb piano. They also have drums and shakers to accompany dancing and songs. 

Traditional Shona group - Mbira DzeNharira playing different sized mbiras, with singing and whistling. 

Shona musician Thomas Mapfumo and his modern group. Notice the mbira is still being played among the electric instruments. 

Ndebele Music

The music of Ndebele people is mostly vocal music that tells a story. Other instruments including drums, rattles and hand claps etc, are used to help accompany the music. 

Ndebele music group, Insingizi performs a song in a traditional style, modern dress. 

Using a modern electric band and dressed in tradition clothes, Ndebele poet and singer, Albert Nyathi sings a song about the "Great King of the Ndebele" and founder of the Mthwakazi Kingdom, Mzilikazi - "The World As We Dance Along".


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