Some people still practice the African Religion of the Mutapa state.

ZIMSEC O Level History Notes: The Mutapa Kingdom:Religious Organization of the Mutapa State

  • The Munhumutapa was the supreme leader and the religious leader of the Mutapa people.
  • He had the ultimate religious powers.
  • Evidence from oral tradition argues that the Munhumutapa was a seen as a divine king
  • This is also supported by written evidence from Portuguese sources which state that the Mutapa subjects were of the belief that the Munhumutapa would go to heaven once he died
  • The people believed if the Munhumutapa died he would become a national ancestral spirit mudzimu and be worshiped.
  • Just like the residents of the previous state like Great Zimbabwe,
  • the Mutapa people believed in the supreme being whom they called Mwari and
  • They believed Mwari was the creator
  • The Mutapas also believed in masvikiro who are the mediums of mhondoro
  • Mhondoro refers to the spirits of a deceased chief or king
  • These spirits were seen as being of national importance
  • It was believed the mhondoro spirit would posses lions without manes (females) until they found a medium to possess
  • The Mutapa people also  believed that the masvikiros and the Mhondoros would pass on  their grievances, requests and petitions  to Mwari
  • and in return Mwari would communicate to them through the masvikiro.
  • Prayers and pettitions were passed on from the last deceased ancestor up until they reached Mwari
  • The Mhondoro’s and masvikiros could castigate the Mutapa if he did something wrong.
  • Thus the mhondoro and masvikiro acted as a check on the Mutapa’s power and exercise of authority
  • This essentially means there was a rudimentary separation of religious and political power
  • As the Mhondoros and Svikiros were not entirely under the power of the Mutapa
  • The Mutapa was not the overall head of the religious system but he was given his deserved respect in this area.
  • The religious leaders provided leadership in times of political crisis, e. g during the first chimurenga 1896-7 or Shona- Ndebele uprisings.
  • The Mutapas gave the mhondoros gifts in the form of cloth, beads,cattle and young men and a sign of respect and also to get their support
  • This means the Mutapa could influence the mhondoro and svikiros to see things their way in certain instances
  • Mhondoros shrines were located in the capital and the mhondoros were responsible for their maintenance.
  • Mhondoros served as oral historical figures as they kept record of king names and also their deeds.
  • Go to this page to see a list of some of  the famous Mhondoros/Svikiros in the Mutapa Kingdom

To access more topics go to the History Notes page.


Quick NetOne, Telecel, Africom, And Econet Airtime Recharge

If anything goes wrong, chat with us using the chat feature at the bottom right of this screen