14 Jun 2007


Posted by K Chikuse

In Zimbabwe mitupo (totems) have been in use among the Shona people from the initial stages of their culture. The use of totems identifies the different clans that historically made up the ancient civilizations of the dynasties that ruled the Shona people from Great Zimbabwe. Most notably these symbols were associated with animal names. The purpose of the totem was meant:

  1. To embody the unification, collective pride and aspirations of a clan and its ancestry and
  2. To guard against clan’s defilement through acts that are considered to be against social and cultural morals such as incestuous behaviour. For instance, among the Shona people, sexual relationships and marriages are strictly prohibited between men and women who have the same totem because they are considered, for all intents and purposes, to be related;
  3. For the social identity of the clan; and also
  4. To praise someone in recited poetry.

It should be pointed out here that totems among the Shona people have nothing to do with animal worship. Shona totems are also not considered to be, or associated with anything to do with, watching over a person or group thereof. Shona religious practices generally do not involve the totem and where totems are mentioned, its usually only through praise poetry that uses the totem’s praise name (chidawo).

In contemporary Shona society there are at least 25 identifiable totems (mitupo) with at least 60 principal praise names (zvidawo). Every Shona clan is identified by a particular mutupo and chidawo. The chidawo in this case is used to distinguish people who have the same totem but are from different clans; for example clans that share the same totem Shumba (lion) will show their different clansmanship by using a particular praise name like Murambwe, or Nyamuziwa. The foundations of the totems are inspired in rhymes that reference the history of the totem. The Clan is the core of every Shona chiefdom. It is a group of agnatically related kinsmen and women who trace their descent from a common founding ancestor.

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56 Responses to “Mitupo”

  1. The Hove totem pliz …. vana Save tipeiwo praise poems


    Simeon McFish

  2. Anyone anokwanisa kudetemba mutupo Shumba garwe



  3. im looking for detembo remutupo we soko wafawanaka plz



  4. wanna know the totem of majani and of ndebele plz help



  5. what is the history of gushungo totem


    leonah pandason lower six

  6. does anyone kno about sakupa


    weddy mushawe

  7. i am cordially asking more for shumba nyamuzihwa



  8. Can someone help me with the lineages of totems as well as the founding ancestors. You can contact me on mtasaludo@gmail.com


    Ludo Mutasa

  9. please if anyone knows mutupo wekwa shongwe



  10. need information on shumba nechinanga can someone help please,can i also get the praise poetry please note a lot of people say its the same as mhazi,nyamuziwa ,we are the same people but the poem is diffrent.


    henry nyemba

  11. what about totems and their praise names both of female and males


    Melisa Siziba

  12. can sameone give me the history yevanhu vekwa Mandava,machocho,Nyunguma. vayera moyo ye varozvi from mberengwa.you can whatsapp +2773688254


    vengai mandava

  13. ko Sigauke weduweeeeee ndibatsireiwo



  14. Does anyone know of the origin Madyirapanze totem.


    Timothy Guvava

  15. Ko vanhu vanoera mhashu (hwiza) mutupo wavo unodetembwa seyi?,ndinotenda kana ndikawana angandi batsira.


    eric masona

  16. Is Moyo Chirandu same thing with Moyondizvo? Are they different totems?



  17. Ndodawo kuziba kuti miranzi vanoyerei vanhu Ava



  18. QDS

  19. Hy guys nokumbirawo kana pane anoziva detembo remutupo weishwa. …Beta



  20. […] Zimbabwe, totems (mitupo) have been in use among the Shona groupings since the initial development of their culture. Totems […]

  21. Let me get it for you by Saturday Shumba musatye.Where are you located.


    Phillip Masvanhisr

  22. Thanks hey so do you Chadau chacho


    Tendai Matambo

  23. I am from Shumba Murisawasha family.They originated from Matungulu Lesotho.They are said to have migrated to Zimbabwe near Mvuma from were the then scattered to Silobela, Karoi ,Gokwe.


    Phillip Masvanhisr

  24. Hie the is shumba murisawasha can you find out for me



  25. Hi Good people. We have made an effort to compile and produce a mobile application with almost all totems from Zimbabwe. You can download it on Google Play Store for free.

    Windows and Iphone versions are available on our website http://www.qds.co.zw/mitupo, all for free.

    Totems are available are as follows;
    Beta Wabata Dhliwayo,Bhebhe vokwaTumbare,Gumbo Madyirapanze,Gumbo Madyirapazhe,Gwai Gumbi,Hlatywayo Nungu,Humba Nyanguru,Mbano Matemavi,Mbuya Chikonamombe,Mhlanga Dhuve,Moyo Akatakwa,Moyo Chirandu,Moyo Mugonderwa,Moyo Mushoriwa,Moyo Muturikwa,Moyo Nematombo,Moyo Shayamombe,Moyo Sinyoro,Moyo Sithole,Moyo Wadyegora,Moyo Wakapiwa,Moyondizvo,Musoni Shinda,Mutonga Mupamombe,Ngara WaMambo,Nhari Unendoro,Nhewa Simboti,Nzou Samanyanga,Shava Mazarura,Shava Mhizha,Shava Mufakose,Shava Museyamwa,Shava Mutenhesanwa,Shava Mwendamberi,Shava Nyakudirwa,Shava Vhuramavi,Shayamombe Dziva,Shiri Maokomavi,Shonga Nyati,Shumba Gurundoro,Shumba Jichidza,Shumba Mhazi,Shumba Murambwi,Shumba Nyamuzihwa,Shumba Sipambi,Soko Chuma,Soko Kumene,Soko Moyondizvo,Soko Murehwa,Soko Nehumba,Soko Vhudzijena Wachenuka,Tembo Mazvimbakupa,Tembo Shumba Samaita,Tembo Wakapiwa,Tsiwo Gushungo,Zenda Simbirori
    Disclaimer: We are not liable for anything that arises from the use of this application. We are providing this as a Free Service to the Zimbabwe community, the content therein is found in the public domain in different formats, syntax and structures. If you find anything which needs correction or additions, please do not hesitate to contact us.


    Quality Data Solutions

  26. nditumirewo Detembo remutupo weMbizi weduwee manjenjenje


    Takemore Mwandera

  27. Vana Mhofu/Mpofu vanobva kuBuhera. Vanonzi vaHera rudzi gwavo



  28. @Tinashe. Zvidawo zveshumba ndzvizvi. Nyamuziwha, Mhazi, Murambwi, Guriro, Gurundoro



  29. I am of the mutupo weShumba doing grade five. Please can someone email me the various chidawo for the Shumba.



  30. The vaGarwe people are originally from Mutoko of the Shumba Nyamuzihwa origin. Their ancestor was Negarwe who was a brother to Chainda and others am now forgetting. They where sons of Dehwe. Negarwe is the father to the Mutambaras and others who later identified themselves as vaGarwe. The other group of this same family is found in Masvingo who now Indentfy themselves as Shumba Charumbira. These are Chainda’s children who was brother to Negarwe who were both sons of Dehwe. Chainda had his Children, Bika, Nezvigaro, Nemazuhwa if my memory still serves me well. These have their children who are now called Charumbira which is actually a nickname, they are rightly called, muzeketwa or chibwa. These people, Negarwe, Charumbira, and Nyamuzihwa are one and the same people.
    I am planning to visit our roots that is Mutoko to gather more history, and if you are interested in your History you can keep in touch with me , as soon as I gather something I will let you know. You can contact me on taitamirepi@Gmail.com


    Taimon Tamirepi

  31. can someone email me the history or origins of the Garwe people of Guhune, Mutambara, vemutupo we Chihwa? Mutupo we Chihwa unodetembwa sei?


    Lily Kashangura

  32. unodetemba say mutupo shumba nyamuzihwa



  33. mutupo wenzou unodetembwa sei


    Sabina Chiteme

  34. no tingati kuzvinetsa here ?jus want to know where l belong.knowing basa remitupo will save most of us a lot of troubles if l may add.one has just have to know .


    abigail murudzwa

  35. muri kuzvitambudzireyiko nemitupo vana vaduku semunoziva basa rayo? zvisineyi hazvo kune bhuku raunogona kutenga pa amazon rinonzi Mitupo nezvidawo zvemadzinza



  36. wat of mutupo wemaphosa/nungu/chivasa/ngara,does anyone know kudetembwa kwawo?


    abigail murudzwa

  37. What about Mutupo unoti SHONGWE. I went to Gokwe and saw a kombi written Shongwe. The is Shongwe in South Africa. Do you have Shongwe in Shona????????


    Lomakhu Sam

  38. Majola is Ndebele, i asked around and mutupo wacho is just like Khumalo or Masuku of which vakadzi ndivanaMajola uye varume ndivanaMajola…..vanenge vasina chidawo. mutupo wavo unoshandiswa sezita redzinza/mhuri. Majolas are said to be in Mbembesi. i would sugest that u ask amongst the Ndebeles//



  39. ko mutupo unonzi MAJOLA ndeupi uyu. muchishona ndaushaya. kuda unerimwe zita



  40. Did you get your list of totems. If you did, please forward me a copy if you don’t mind.Regards


    Stan Paraffin

  41. Mutupo wevaera Soko asi vanhu ivava vashoma mutupo uyu hausi common



  42. Does anyone know kuti mutupo unodetembwa uchinzi “Kadziwasha” ndowechiyi uye dzinza rawo rinobvepi?



  43. I am very interested in our history post colonial era there should be a written account of how we lived, I have been looking for a long time. As I feel we are on the precipice of losing our culture and its only us who can keep our history alive for the sake of history, I feel we have to know our past so we can preserve this rich culture.Thank you in advance


    Togara Makova

  44. i agree there is no’Shona” i think the government should do something about this. it is confusing and above all not right. in ndiri muKaranga



  45. it changed from mhofu to mpfu when your foreparents where incorporated into the Ndebele people



  46. ndirikutsvagawo bhuku rema short stories,the only story i remember is “Vana munhuwo kwete” coz i was asked to read it out for the class in late 80′s but there were a lot more humorous stories in this book can someone pliz assist.



  47. The hill on which he is buried is called Malindidzimu, which I think means a place of spirits, and he used to come here and plan the development of Rhodesia. He came across the site by chance when riding through the hills with the adminitrator Lord Grey, and he liked the spot. As he remarked at the time- “The peacefulness of it all: the chaotic grandeur of it: it creates a feeling of awe and brings home to one how very small we all are.” He then decided that he would be buried there and that the remains of the Allan Wilson Party should be brought to the Matopos and placed inside the Allan Wilson Memorial. He called it, “A view of the World”


    KC Chikuse

  48. There are things that i dont understand. why did rhodes choose to be burried where he is burried today?


    Wise Tinashe Denhere

  49. Ndine bhuku randakawana kwaKingstons a few years ago – very old newsprint. I could try and scan it for you but then you will need to acknowledge copyright if you are to use it … just have to find it first. What do you need it for? I am looking for more, netsumo, madimikira zvose. If you want, email me on pfondodzaka@gmail.com Asi uri kunyora bhuku.



  50. Can someone help me to find or compile a list of zimbabwean totems{mitupo}.



  51. Can someone help me with the praise poem (detembo) of the Moyo Dhewa people. You can as well email to tappsmoyo@gmail.com.


    Tapiwa Moyo

  52. Hakuna rudzi runonzi Shona/mashona. Shona was a collective name given to Karanga, Zezuru, Manyika, Vabuja, Makorekore and other accents by the Colonies who settled in Zimbabwe, because they found the languages so similar and could not tell the difference.



  53. One other thing why did our surname become “mpofu” instead of the correct “mhofu”?



  54. Does anyone know of the origin of our “Mpofu” surname? Some talk of wedza as where we are originally from. can you enlighten me please people.



  55. You were given the name Shona by theNgunis after the Zwangendaba’s impis,I had that it was because of cowardice they said your ancestors were running hiding in caves of the Mountains that’s where the name Shona (Mashona’entabeni) came by


    Fair talk

  56. Who was the first Mashona / Shona and what does the name mean???



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