Shona is a national language of Zimbabwe, along with Ndebele and the official business language, English. There are also clusters of Shona in Zambia, Mozambique and Botswana.
Nearly 80% of people in Zimbabwe speak the Bantu language of Shona, or chiShona, so this is definitely the language to learn if you are thinking of visiting that country!
Despite movement to urban areas, the traditional Shona people maintain constant contact with their rural home, viewing themselves as “sons and daughters of the soil.” It’s important to note that the Shona language is intertwined with Shona social and religious values. In addition to an everyday Shona language there is a “high” or “deep” Shona that is used in communicating with the ancestors.
What’s in a name?
Zimbabwe is named after Great Zimbabwe, the twelfth- to fifteenth-century stone-built capital of the Rozwi Shona dynasty. The name is thought to derive from dzimba dza mabwe (“great stone houses”) or dzimba waye (“esteemed houses”).