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#TabooThursday: Zimbabwean taboos tied to Culture

Zimbabwe is a landlocked African country situated in the south of Africa. It has a population of roughly 14 million people, has 16 languages, and about 7 religions. Although Christianity is the main religion and being introduced by the Portuguese in the 16th century, the natives of Zimbabwe already knew God though traditional religion.

The Zimbabwean people (Shona, Ndebele, Kalanga, Nyanja, etc) all knew and believed in God ( Mwari, Unkulunkulu), assessing through spirit mediums. The practice has been carried on for eons and still holds precedents to other religions as it is still influential in the everyday lives of Zimbabweans.

The traditional practices have carried taboos that have affected generations over the course of time. One of the taboos that has shaped and affected the Zimbabwean as a nation is the belief that nothing cultural or eventful should take place in the month of November. Many theories have been
passed down as to why there is such a belief, but all of them point to one thing- culture.

The belief dates back to centuries ago and it has been known to be sacred because it was and still is the month when people start preparations for the all-important agricultural season. It is during this month that all things ancestral and spiritual in the Zimbabwean tradition cease to function.

  1. Agriculture
    The month of November known as Mbudzi (meaning goat in Shona) or Lwezi (meaning moon in Ndebele) is the time when people start preparing for planting. Not much is done as it is considered a time for resting. It is said, in the Shona culture, the month is called Mbudzi because it is when goats give birth and are at their mating peak.
  2. Cultural
    Cultural celebrations or ceremonies such as bira, (calling on ancestral spirits for guidance and intercession), kurova makuva (calling on the spirit of the dead to come back to protect the household exactly a year after the funeral) or any other traditional rites are regarded as taboo during the month of November.

    It is believed the spiritual realm will be at rest but does not cease to exist. Traditional healers, spiritual mediums, and all those who channel the spiritual realm will be on a hiatus as it is deemed a “sabbath” in the traditional sector.
  3. Celebrations and ceremonies
    Traditional wedding or white wedding ceremonies practiced during the month of November are deemed null as it is believed they are events that need the blessings of the ancestors and acknowledgment from the spiritual realm. Having such a celebration during this month will result in unfavorable weather conditions such as droughts and mystical occurrences to take place.

    Although not all Zimbabweans believe in this taboo due to different beliefs, it seems to be a practice that brings the country to a halt and seems to be observed regardless. It appears to be a tradition that will be carried on by generations to come, as they have been accustomed to keep the month sacred.

Written by:

My name is Rudo Manyere and I am a blogger, aspiring screenwriter, and writer. I write short stories, book reviews, and lifestyle. I enjoy reading and discovering new writers, especially African writer’s as I feel a kind of kinship.

Blog: basicgirl.blog

Twitter: RudoManyere

Facebook: Rudo Manyere

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