Shona is the principle language of Zimbabwe, in southern Africa. It is spoken by about 8 million people, or 70 percent of the native population. Shona is another of the Bantu languages.
There are five main Shona language groups: Korekore, Zezuru, Manyika, Ndau, and Karanga . The last of these groups was largely absorbed by the Ndebele [] when they moved into western Zimbabwe in the 1830s. Shona are linguistically related to the central Bantu and most likely moved into present day Zimbabwe during the great Bantu expansion.
History of the Shona People
The archaeological ruins known as "Great Zimbabwe" have been radio carbon dated to approximately 600 A.D. Historic findings seems to point to the fact that the ancestors of modern day Shona people built Great Zimbabwe and hundreds of other stone walled sites in Zimbabwe. Bantu-speaking farmers, either Khoisan settlers or Iron Age migrants from the north, were the first occupants of the Great Zimbabwe site in the south of the country. Between 500 and 1000AD, the Gokomere (a Bantu group) enslaved and absorbed San groups in the area. As early as the 11th century, some foundations and stonework were in place at Great Zimbabwe and the settlement, generally regarded as the burgeoning Shona society.
The original Shona occupants of Zimbabwe are all embodied under the umbrella name “Hungwe”. The conquerors of the Hungwe fall under the blanket name “Mbire”. It is believed that it was the Mbire who were the founders of the Mutapa Empire as well as the Rozvi Empire which was destroyed by the various Nguni tribes that passed through the land of Zimbabwe during the Mfecane wars. Namely, the Ndebele tribe, who now occupy southwest Zimbabwe, and the Shangane tribe in the southeast of Zimbabwe. The Hungwe settled in Zimbabwe for probably two to three hundred years before the Mbire arrived.
Its important to note that the difference between the present day Mbire (which refers to the Marondera – Wedza district and the people whose is mutopo is Soko or Mhofu), and the 1500 A.D. Mbire. In about 1500 A.D. the term referred to all the members of the invading family which took over the land from the Hungwe. The Mbire took over the land of Zimbabwe around somewhere between 1000 and 1050 AD. Their invasion from across the Zambezi river marked the beginning of the dynasty of the Mbire empire which is commonly known as Mutapa Empire (state). The Mutapa Empire or Mbire Empire covered most pasts of present day Zimbabwe . The empire incorporated most of the whole of Mozambique, South of the Zambezi river and north of the Sabi river down to the sea. Some of the present day South Africa tribes are known to have been segmented from the Shona (best known ones are the Venda and Lovendu). The expansion of Mbire Empire, include the following shona tribes Barwe, Manyika, Ndau, Korekore, Shangwe, and Guruuswa.
The Shona tribe, believe in veneration of spirits. There is a line of thought that suggests that the Shona people are descendants from one group of families, that was ruled by one paramount Chief. This line of thought would justify the fact that such Shona High spirits as Chaminuka, Kaguvi and Nehanda command unquestionable authority over all Shona tribes. It is this that could have enabled the Shona risings of 1896-7, known as the First Chimurenga. Before the risings there where a number of mhondoros (Mhondoro is a Shona language term meaning the founding ancestor of a particular dynasty) in Zimbabwe but none had the authority to co-ordinate the various Shona tribes against the European settlers.