230 Pages

Indigenous Shona Philosophy


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Some of the most provocative questions confronting philosophers in Africa are grounded in the historical memory of conquest and the peripheralisation the continent. Mungwini offers a critical reconstruction of indigenous Shona philosophy as an aspect of the African intellectual heritage held hostage by colonial modernity. In this comprehensive work, he lays bare the thoughts of the Shona, who are credited with the founding of the ancient Great Zimbabwe civilisation. Retracing the epistemic thread in the fabric of Shona culture and philosophy, he explores the assumptions that inform their thinking. The exchange of such knowledge is fundamental to the future of humanity.



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Published 29 December 2017
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EAN13 9781920033514
Language English
Document size 11 MB

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To my family and those with interest in the African intellectual heritage
About the Series he Arîcan Humanîtîes Serîes îs a partnersîp between te Arîcan Humanîtîes Program (AHP) o te Amerîcan Councîl o Learned Socîetîes and academîc publîsers NISC (Pty) Ltd*. he Serîes covers topîcs în Arîcan îstorîes, languages, lîteratures, pîlosopîes, polîtîcs and cultures. Submîssîons are solîcîted rom Fellows o te AHP, wîc îs admînîstered by te Amerîcan Councîl o Learned Socîetîes and inancîally supported by te Carnegîe Corporatîon o New York. he purpose o te AHP îs to encourage and enable te productîon o new knowledge by Arîcans în te ive countrîes desîgnated by te Carnegîe Corporatîon: Gana, Nîgerîa, Sout Arîca, Tanzanîa, and Uganda. AHP ellowsîps support one year’s work ree rom teacîng and oter responsîbîlîtîes to allow te Fellow to complete te project proposed. Elîgîbîlîty or te ellowsîp în te ive countrîes îs by domîcîle, not natîonalîty. Book proposals are submîtted to te AHP edîtorîal board wîc manages te peer revîew process and selects manuscrîpts or publîcatîon by NISC. In some cases, te AHP board wîll commîssîon a manuscrîpt mentor to undertake substantîve edîtîng and to work wît te autor on reinîng te inal manuscrîpt. he Arîcan Humanîtîes Serîes aîms to publîs works o te îgest qualîty tat wîll oreground te best researc beîng done by emergîng scolars în te ive Carnegîe desîgnated countrîes. he rîgorous selectîon process beore te ellowsîp award, as well as AHP edîtorîal vettîng o manuscrîpts, assures attentîon to qualîty. Books în te serîes are întended to speak to scolars în Arîca as well as în oter areas o te world. he AHP îs also commîtted to provîdîng a copy o eac publîcatîon în te serîes to unîversîty lîbrarîes în Arîca.
*early tîtles în te serîes was publîsed by Unîsa Press, but te publîsîng rîgts to te entîre serîes are now vested în NISC
AHP Editorial Board Members as at January 2019 AHP Series Editors: Proessor Adîgun Agbaje*, Unîversîty o Ibadan, Nîgerîa Proessor Emerîtus Fred Hendrîcks, Rodes Unîversîty, Sout Arîca Consultant: Proessor Emerîtus Sandra Barnes, Unîversîty o Pennsylvanîa, USA (Antropology) Board Members: 1 Proessor Akosua Adomako Ampoo, Instîtute o Arîcan Studîes, Gana (Gender Studîes & Advocacy) (Vîce Presîdent, Arîcan Studîes Assocîatîon o Arîca) 2 Proessor Koi Anyîdoo, Unîversîty o Gana, Gana (Arîcan Studîes & Lîterature) (Dîrector, Codesrîa Arîcan Humanîtîes Instîtute Program) 3 Proessor Ibraîm Bello-Kano, Bayero Unîversîty, Nîgerîa (Dept o Englîs and Frenc Studîes) 4 Proessor Satî Fwatsak, Unîversîty o Jos, Nîgerîa (Dept o Hîstory & Internatîonal Studîes) 5 Proessor Patrîcîa Hayes, Unîversîty o te Western Cape, Sout Arîca (Arîcan Hîstory, Gender Studîes and Vîsualîty) (SARCI Caîr în Vîsual Hîstory and heory) 6 Assocîate Proessor Wîlred Lajul, College o Humanîtîes & Socîal Scîences, Makerere Unîversîty, Uganda (Dept o Pîlosopy) 7 Proessor Yusuu Lawî, Unîversîty o Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzanîa (Dept o Hîstory) 8 Proessor Bertram Mapunda, Unîversîty o Dar es Salaam, Tanzanîa (Dept o Arcaeology & Herîtage Studîes) 9 Proessor Innocent Pîkîrayî, Unîversîty o Pretorîa, Sout Arîca (Caîr & Head, Dept o Antropology & Arcaeology) 10 Proessor Josepat Rugemalîra, Unîversîty o Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzanîa (Dept o Foreîgn Languages & Lînguîstîcs) 11 Proessor Idayat Bola Udegbe, Unîversîty o Ibadan, Nîgerîa (Dept o Psycology)
*replaced Proessor Kwesî Yanka, Cental Unîverîty College, Gana, co-edîtor rom 2013–2016
Published in this series
Domînîca Dîpîo,Gender terrains in African cinema, 2014 Ayo Adeduntan,WHat tHe forest told me: Yoruba Hunter, culture and narrative performance,2014 Sule E. Egya,Nation, power and dissidence in tHird-generation Nigerian poetry in EnglisH, 2014 Irîkîdzayî Manase,WHite narratives: he depiction of post-2000 land invasions in Zimbabwe, 2016 Pasca Mungwînî, Indigenous SHona PHilosopHy: Reconstructive insigHts, 2017 Sylvîa Bruînders,Parading Respectability: he Cultural and Moral AestHetics of tHe CHristmas Bands Movement in tHe Western Cape, SoutH Africa, 2017 Mîcael Andîndîlîle,he AnglopHone literary-linguistic continuum: EnglisH and indigenous languages in African literary discourse, 2018 Jeremîa Arowosegbe,Claude E Ake: tHe making of an organic intellectual, 2018 Romanus Abo,Language and tHe construction of multiple identities in tHe Nigerian novel, 2018 Bernard Matolîno,Consensus as Democracy in Africa,2018 Babajîde Ololajulo, UnsHared Identity:PostHumous paternity in a contemporary Yoruba community,2018
Indigenous Shona PhilosophyReconstructive Insights
Orîgînally publîsed în 2017 by Unîsa Press, Sout Arîca under ISBN: 978-1-86888-841-2
hîs edîtîon publîsed în Sout Arîca on beal o te Arîcan Humanîtîes Program by NISC (Pty) Ltd, PO Box 377, Graamstown, 6140, Sout Arîca www.nîsc.co.za
NISC irst edîtîon, irst împressîon 2019
Publîcatîon © Arîcan Humanîtîes Program 2017, 2019 Text © Irîkîdzayî Manase 2017, 2019 All rîgts reserved. No part o tîs publîcatîon may be reproduced or transmîtted în any orm or by any means, electronîc or mecanîcal, încludîng potocopyîng, recordîng, or any înormatîon storage or retrîeval system, wîtout prîor permîssîon în wrîtîng rom te publîser.
ISBN: 978-1-920033-50-7 (prînt) ISBN: 978-1-920033-51-4 (PDF) ISBN: 978-1-920033-52-1 (ePub)
Book Desîgner: hea Bester-Swanepoel Project Edîtor: Tsegoatso Selodîmela Copyedîtor: Sakîra Hoosaîn Typesettîng: Andrî Steyn, Nozîpo Noble
he autor and te publîser ave made every efort to obtaîn permîssîon or and acknowledge te use o copyrîgt materîal. Sould an înadvertent înrîngement o copyrîgt ave occurred, please contact te publîser and we wîll rectîy omîssîons or errors în any subsequent reprînt or edîtîon.
Introduction: Philosophy and its realities
Indigenous Shona philosophy The quest for indigenous Shona philosophy The question of method The universal and the particular The African intellectual heritage Questioning the scriptocentric fallacy Proverbs and Shona philosophy
Who are the Shona? Concerning the Shona past Who are the Shona? The politics of naming The ‘invention’ of tradition
8 8 12 23 27 33 38
48 48 50 56 59
Indigenous Shona metaphysical thought The question of metaphysics The question of appropriation The concept of Mwari Spirits and traditional leadership The concept ofchivanhuCausality among the Shona Causality in Shona life: An example Death and immortality The concept of person Death and cremation Belief in witchcraft and occult forces Other metaphysical concepts
Knowledge among the indigenous Shona The question of knowledge African epistemology Shona epistemology Revealed and esoteric knowledge The place of secrecy Divination and knowledge The question of efîcacy Proverbs and knowledge
Indigenous Shona morality The nature of African morality Morality among the Shona Kuva munhu muvanhuShame cultures and the panoptic effect The morality of relations Proverbs and Shona morality Shona ethics of nature From the past to the future
68 68 74 78 82 86 91 93 95 95 99 100 108
112 112 116 120 124 125 127 129 133
138 138 143 144 147 150 154 157 160
Indigenous Shona aesthetics Aesthetics and African culture Art and philosophy Beauty among the Shona Metaphysical dimensions of Shona art The soapstone birds of Great Zimbabwe
164 164 166 172 174 176