Facts About Zimbabwe's Culture, Geography, and History
Zimbabwe is a landlocked southern African country that is bordered by Zambia, South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique. The following 12 interesting facts provides a rough cast of this richly-endowed country.
12. The first people of the country were the Bantu-speaking Iron Age farmers that settled in the region around AD 300.
The Bantu people are predominant in most parts of southern Africa, including Zimbabwe. The Bantus are believed to have dispersed from the Congo Basin.
Zimbabwe is home to some of the oldest empires in southern Africa dating some centuries ago. One of these famous empires is the Mwene Mutapa Empire.
There are many archaeological sites that proves ancient civilization in Zimbabwe was remarkably advanced compared to some other parts of the world within the relevant period.
However, the first inhabitants of Zimbabwe were not the Bantus but the Khoisan that are estimated to have inhabited Zimbabwe as early as 200 BC.
11. Zimbabwe’s President – Robert Gabriel Mugabe – is (Update: WAS) one of the current oldest and also the longest serving leaders of a non-royal country in the world.
Prior to him being deposed through a quiet military coup towards the end of 2017, Robert Mugabe had rule Zimbabwe for over 36 years, ranking as one of the longest reigning presidents in the world.
At the time of being deposed, Mugabe had set record as the world oldest serving head of State. Now, Queen Elizabeth has a chance to overtake him.
She still has one year (till some time later in 2019) to go having been born two years and two months after Robert Mugabe.
10. It is illegal in Zimbabwe for the police to impound your vehicle on the road. The only occasion when they can do so is when they ask you to produce your driver’s license.
There are strict traffic laws in Zimbabwe. However, they do not give police a blanket cheque to impound vehicles as they wish. Rarely do police impound vehicles except when demanding for driver’s license.
9. Zimbabwe have won a total of eight medals at the Olympic Games in two sports – hockey and swimming.
Zimbabwe performs pretty well in Olympic field events. Hockey and swimming are its favorites and it has harvested plenty of medals from them. It started off its luck by winning the 1980 Olympic gold medal in Women’s Hockey.
Later on, it has won the rest of the medals in swimming. It has won two swimming Gold medals, four Silvers, and one Bronze. All the swimming medals have been won by Kirsty Coventry.
8. The name of the country was derived from the fortified trading hub, Great Zimbabwe, which was built in medieval times and was used by the people of the ‘Shona’ tribe.
Great Zimbabwe was a fortified trading hub whose ruins still stands today. Great Zimbabwe was built using stones without being joined by mortars.
It was the seat capital of the famous Mwene Mutapa Empire that existed some four centuries ago. The word ‘zimbabwe’ is a Shona term meaning ‘great house of stones’.
7. In 2008, Zimbabwe experienced a whopping 231 million percent inflation.
Zimbabwe was a rich country by all standards. It had one of the best agricultural, education and healthcare policies in Africa. It was Africa’s food basket.
However, things started turning for the worst when clamor for multiparty democracy around the world gained decibels as part of the ‘New World Order’ after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Mugabe was never willing to let multiparty democracy to take root. He was desirous of clinging to power through electoral fraud and manipulation. As such, he got out of touch with his Western masters. Foreign aid became frozen and economic sanctions started coming.
Mugabe became relentless and decided to pursue forceful land seizure from British colonial land-grabbers after Britain failed to honor its promise to facilitate loans for buying back the land so as to distribute to millions of African squatters whose land had been stolen.
With more economic sanctions and trade embargo, Zimbabwe’s economy nosedived resulting into hyperinflation that went up to over 230 million percent.
6. One of the largest waterfalls in the world, Victoria Falls, is located on the Zambezi River.
Zambezi that crosses several countries including Zimbabwe has a remarkable landmark called Victoria Falls. Victoria Falls is the world’s most spectacular water fall.
It has a huge curtain of water falling spanning several hundreds of meters. The violent fall of the waters over the bedrock not only leaves thudding sound but also splashes vapor that appears like snowfall over a large area of forest.
Related: Top 10 things to see in Zimbabwe
5. Manufacturing, mining, and farming constitute the backbone of the Zimbabwean economy.
Zimbabwe, prior to economic destruction was Africa’s food basket famed for its highly organized and productive large-scale farming. Zimbabwe is blessed not only with fertile soils but also mineral rich grounds.
Gold is one of the leading mineral export in Zimbabwe. Other than Gold, there are deposits of uranium, bauxite, among other minerals.
4. The ‘mbira’, which is a small hand-held instrument, has been played for more than 1,000 years in Zimbabwe. This instrument is also commonly referred to as a ‘thumb piano.’
Mbira is one of those instruments that brings to live the spirit of Zimbabwe. It is a traditional instrument of the Shona people who comprise almost 70% of the country’s population.
This is an instrument that inspires tales to tell during folklore ceremonies where music teaches and music inspires. There are good traditional teachers that would be willing to teach you (at a small token of appreciation) as you endeavor to mingle with Zimbabweans way of life.
3. Mwari is the name of the deity of the Shona tribes people in Zimbabwe. They have been believing in this deity for centuries.
According to Shona people, Mwari is the supreme creator of the universe. Mwari is revered as a loving God, the provider of rains, the enricher of fertile lands, and the blesser of journeys.
The Shona being a monotheistic society, his centrality is akin to that of God of the Christians.
2. In Zimbabwe, there is a strong belief that mermaids exist.
Zimbabwean folklore has stories of sea spirits. Among them are the mermaids that are held responsible for great catastrophe like famine, wars, abductions and many other crimes.
It is believed mermaid spirits hunt people and whenever there are deaths and disappearance during catastrophes, it is believed that the mermaids were on a hunting spree and managed to grab some human spirits to their world.
1. Zimbabweans see pot bellies in men as a sign of success and wealth.
Potbelly, world over, has traditionally been regarded as a sign of well-being and material prosperity. This belief is still held in some parts of Africa, more so in Zimbabwe. Zimbabweans considers potbellied men as wealthy and successful.
Zimbabwe is a rich country in both cultural heritage and natural wealth. It has spectacular flora and fauna unmatched elsewhere.
There is so much to learn from Zimbabwe than we could be able to capture in this article. A lot more awaits you on your visit to explore this ‘great house of stones’.
Keep reading: What Is The Largest Country In Africa?