Embracing independence: Zimbabwe's triumph over western influence

Staff Reporter

As Zimbabwe approaches its 44th Independence Day celebrations, it is imperative to reflect on the nation's remarkable journey towards sovereignty, particularly in resisting the pervasive influence of Western culture and retaining its unique identity.

Amidst the pressures of globalisation and external forces, Zimbabwe stands as a testament to the resilience and determination of its people to preserve their heritage and values.

One of the most striking aspects of Zimbabwe's independence is its steadfast commitment to preserving its cultural diversity. Unlike many other African nations, Zimbabwe has fiercely defended its indigenous languages, traditional beliefs, and cultural practices.

Despite the historical imposition of Western languages and customs during colonial rule, Zimbabweans have upheld their native tongues, such as Shona, Ndebele, and numerous others, as integral components of their national identity. This dedication to linguistic diversity not only strengthens social cohesion but also serves as a powerful assertion of Zimbabwe's autonomy.

Furthermore, Zimbabwe has demonstrated remarkable resilience in safeguarding its traditional belief systems. Traditional African beliefs, such as the Shona and Ndebele religions, have been practiced in Zimbabwe longer than any other religion in the country. Whilst Christianity is practised in the country, the African Traditional Religion continues to take centre stage in advancing spiritual guidance to foster development.

These belief systems, which predate colonialism, provide unique insights into Zimbabwean spirituality. In these traditions, God is perceived as the creator of the universe, and communication with the divine is facilitated through deceased ancestors, revered as intermediaries between the earthly realm and the spiritual realm.

African traditional beliefs are much older and have been practiced in Zimbabwe longer than any other religion in the country. People communicate with God (Mwari in Shona, uMlimu in Ndebele) through their deceased ancestors (Vadzium in Shona, Amadhlozi in Ndebele). These deceased ancestors are thought to make up an invisible community that surrounds the living and their descendants, looking over them.

Both religions have spirit mediums that can communicate with the deceased, though in Shona there are also evil spirits called Ngizo, whom witches can communicate with. In the Mwali religion, they are most well known for their yearly pilgrimage to the Matobo Hills, where a delegation goes to the Njelele Shrine there and asks Mwari to make rain.

There is also the Unhu religion, which emphasises humanist philosophy, and the religion of the San, who believe that there is a spirit alongside our world. Currently, traditional African beliefs are practiced by 67% of Zimbabwe's population.

In the economic realm, Zimbabwe has charted its own course by maintaining independence in its currency policies. While many African nations have adopted Western currencies or embraced economic models dictated by global powers, Zimbabwe has retained its sovereign right to issue and manage its own currency. The recent introduction of ZiG serves as a testament to the country’s commitment to uphold currency sovereignty and economic stabilisation.

Despite facing economic challenges in the past, including hyperinflation and currency devaluation, Zimbabwe has persevered, demonstrating resilience in the face of adversity. The coexistence of multiple currencies alongside the Zimbabwean dollar underscores the nation's determination to assert its economic independence while navigating the complexities of a globalised world.

Moreover, Zimbabwe's independence is evident in its approach to fashion and attire. Despite the influence of Western fashion trends, Zimbabweans take pride in showcasing their traditional attire, such as the vibrant patterns of the Shona and Ndebele cultures or the elegant garments of the Tonga and Chewa peoples.

This embrace of indigenous fashion reflects not only a celebration of Zimbabwe's cultural heritage but also a rejection of homogenising Western norms. It is a statement of self-assurance and identity, affirming Zimbabwe's place as a unique and sovereign nation.

Zimbabwe's culinary landscape further exemplifies its independence and cultural richness. The country's traditional dishes and drinks, reflective of its history, geography, and cultural influences, offer a tantalising journey for any food enthusiast or traveller seeking to immerse themselves in local culture.

From the staple dish of sadza, a maize porridge enjoyed with a variety of stews and meats, to the flavourful muriwo unedovi, a vegetable and peanut butter stew, Zimbabwean cuisine delights the senses with its blend of traditional flavours and ingredients. Additionally, the country's diverse array of game meats, sweet treats like mahewu and mapopo candy, and refreshing drinks like maheu and ginger beer showcase Zimbabwe's culinary diversity and commitment to preserving local culinary traditions.

As Zimbabwe commemorates its Independence Day, it is essential to recognise the nation's resilience and determination in the face of external pressures. From language and religion to economics, fashion, and cuisine, Zimbabwe has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to preserving its identity and independence.

In a world increasingly dominated by Western influences, Zimbabwe's triumph over cultural imperialism serves as an inspiration not only to its own people but to nations across the African continent.

As Zimbabweans celebrate their freedom, let us salute their indomitable spirit and unwavering dedication to sovereignty.