O level Notes : FRS - Indigenous Religion And Zimbabwean Identity
Indigenous religion refers to the religion of the native Zimbabwean people, whereas Zimbabwean identity is a concept which is concerned with who a Zimbabwean is as a citizen of a country. It is important to distinguish Zimbabweans from other people of other nations. The
INDIGENOUS RELIGION AND ZIMBABWEAN IDENTITY
Indigenous religion refers to the religion of the native Zimbabwean people, whereas Zimbabwean identity is a concept which is concerned with who a Zimbabwean is as a citizen of a country. It is important to distinguish Zimbabweans from other people of other nations. The culture of the Zimbabwean people which is unique from the others is what Zimbabwean identity is. Zimbabwean identity are features which make a citizen of Zimbabwe unique which have functioned as a symbol of continuity with the past. The features which make the Zimbabwean identity are food, language, behaviour, dressing and beliefs.
Aspects of Indigenous religion which bring out Zimbabwean identity
One of the distinctive features which characterise Zimbabwean identity is unhu or ubuntu. The Shona aspect of Unhu is synonymous with the Nguni Ubuntu which means the belief in a universal bond of sharing all that which connects humanity. Unhu,Ubuntu or Vumunhu is an appreciation of traditional beliefs and a constant awareness that an individual’s actions are for the good of all. In other words, the behaviour patterns in Unhu or Ubuntu, must be acceptable to all. The principle of Unhu or Ubuntu is, “I am because you are.” This means that everything that one does in society affects someone else in one way or the other. It is, therefore, important that an individual does what one sees as beneficial to others.
(a) Being hospitable
In Indigenous religion, a person is expected to be hospitable. It is vital to receive visitors in the home and offer them special food and accommodation. The idea is to please Mwari or uMlimo. The belief is that one would receive similar treatment if one happens to be a visitor in another place one day. Zimbabweans are identified with an attribute of being hospitable people who are guided by elements of Unhu, Ubuntu or Vumunhu. Visitors should be treated with honour throughout their period of visit. Taking care of visitors is everyone’s responsibility in the home, village or community. Displaying natural kindness and politeness are the virtues of Unhu, Ubuntu or Vumunhu in Indigenous religion.
(b) Respect for the elderly
In Indigenous religion, the elderly people are believed to be closer to the ancestral world of the spirit. It is this age group that takes a leading role in rituals and other important ceremonies such as bringing back home the spirit of the deceased, rain-asking and others. The spirit of unhu or ubuntu is shown through the respect accorded the elderly folk. Our identity as Zimbabweans is seen through such respect. The elderly people are there to provide spiritual guidance to the young so that they are protected by the ancestral spirits. Respect of elders is shown through helping them to carry their load when you meet them along the road, greeting them, removing the hat when talking to them as well as assisting them in all areas where they need assistance.
There are some people in society who fall into various forms of misfortunes. In Indigenous religion, society is duty-bound to show positive feelings towards the unfortunate and demonstrating willingness to assist them. The idea is that one is blessed by empathising with the bereaved, the marginalised and the unfortunate members of the society. If immediate parents of a child pass on, it is the responsibility of the extended family to look after the child or children left behind so that they are brought up well. The idea of Unhu, Ubuntu or Vumunhu is of the view that parents should be responsible for the upkeep of every child, including the vulnerable ones.
The spirit of hunhu or ubuntu is shown through sharing what one has with the others in society. It is not good to be pompous about one’s possessions. The spirit of sharing is a key element of unhu, ubuntu or vumunhu that shapes our identity as Zimbabweans. A person is a person through other people, hence the mantra, ‘I am because you are.’ A person with unhu, ubuntu or vumunhu is prepared to share with others, not only material things, but even ideas for progress and development. Shared values have a positive impact on members of one’s family, clan, community and the nation.
(e) Social responsibility
A person with Unhu, Ubuntu or Vumunhu should be responsible. In every society, individuals are responsible for the welfare of others. In Indigenous religion, people believe that they have a duty to actively participate in funeral rites. Failure to do that is considered a misnomer. Assisting the disadvantaged in their fields for them to realise better harvests is everyone’s responsibility in society.