/shoh"neuh/, n., pl. Shonas, (esp. collectively) Shona for 1.
1. Also called Mashona. a member of a group of peoples constituting more than two thirds of the population of Zimbabwe.
2. the Bantu language of the Shona.

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Cluster of Bantu-speaking peoples living in eastern Zimbabwe, west-central Mozambique, and southern Zambia.

Numbering about nine million, they cultivate corn, millet, and sorghum and keep cattle. Their villages consist of mud-and-wattle huts, granaries, and common cattle kraals. Shona traditional culture, now fast declining under Christianizing and urbanizing influences, was noted for its ironwork, pottery, and music. Magic, witchcraft, and sorcery remain important. The Shona are believed to have built Great Zimbabwe.

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      group of culturally similar Bantu-speaking peoples living chiefly in the eastern half of Zimbabwe, north of the Lundi River. The main groupings are the Zezuru, Karanga, Manyika, Tonga-Korekore, and Ndau.

      The Shona are farmers of millet, sorghum, and corn (maize), the last being the primary staple, and a variety of other crops such as rice, beans, peanuts (groundnuts), and sweet potatoes. Cattle are kept by most groups, but, although useful for their milk, they are mainly for prestige, as a store of value, and for bride-price payments. Villages consist of clustered mud and wattle huts, granaries, and common cattle kraals (pens) and typically accommodate one or more interrelated families. Personal and political relations are largely governed by a kinship system characterized by exogamous clans and localized patrilineages. Descent, succession, and inheritance, with the exception of a few groups in the north that are matrilineal, follow the male line. Chiefdoms, wards, and villages are administered by hereditary leaders.

      Shona traditional culture, now fast declining, was noted for its excellent ironwork, good pottery, and expert musicianship. There is belief in a creator-god, Mwari, and a concern to propitiate ancestral and other spirits to ensure good health, rain, and success in enterprise. Elementary education, Christian missions, and partial urbanization have weakened traditional institutions and leadership. However, magic and witchcraft continue as important means of social control and explanations for disasters.

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Universalium. 2010.

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