Figurative and symbolic function of animal imagery in packaging human behaviour in Ndebele and Shona cultures

Published in: South African Journal of African Languages
Volume 36, issue 2, 2016 , pages: 251–256
DOI: 10.1080/02572117.2016.1252029
Author(s): Tendai MangenaDepartment of English and Media Studies, Zimbabwe, Sambulo NdlovuDepartment of African Languages and Literature, Zimbabwe


This paper sets out to discuss how the Shona and Ndebele people of Zimbabwe make use of animal imagery to refer to human behaviour and habits in various situations. In this context, animal traits are drawn from both domestic and wild animals. A discussion of such a conception of human behaviour shall demonstrate that although animalisation largely seeks to denigrate and dehumanise, it is also used to acknowledge positive human qualities. This paper also highlights the following Shona and Ndebele cultural sites where animal imagery is prevalent: Muchohwe/Izichothozo (insult games) and totemic references.

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