Soapstone carvings of the Zimbabwe bird. Image credit

ZIMSEC O Level History Notes: Great Zimbabwe state (Kingdom): Religous organisation of the Great Zimbabwe State

  • The Great Zimbabwe people were very religious
  • Spirit mediums of the state were chosen from any class and this fostered unity among the people
  • The Hungwe bird (fish eagle/Bateleur eagle) was associated the respect and worship of the king’s personal ancestors or mudzimu or national ancestors called mhondoro
  • The state formed religious and political alliance with the Dziva-Hungwe people
  • The Conical Tower was the centre of religious activities
  • The Great Zimbabwe people believed in the supreme God whom they called Mwari
  • The mhondoros and svikiros were mediators between Mwari and the people
  • The spirit mediums and Mwari were believed to be responsible for the supernatural world were natural disasters like droughts, floods and other calamities
  • People therefore performed appeasing ceremonies so as ask for protection from their ancestors
  • There was an altar in the eastern temple and soapstone used for religious rituals
  • The temple is also believed to have housed spirit mediums
  • The people believed in life after death
  • Dead people were buried with belongings they would use in the after life
  • The Great Zimbabwe people performed ceremonies like; rainmaking, reincarnation or bringing back the dead and hunting where beer was brewed and kings and spirit mediums officiated

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