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Describe the social organization of the Shona people in the pre-colonial period.

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  • Mwene Mutapa was head of the religion and was therefore a divine king
  • Shona religion was based on the Mwari cult and Mwari was believed to be the supreme creator
  • The community had several priests who led the rest of the people in the worship of Mwari 
  • Priests were believed to possess spiritual powers which they could use to ward off diseases, epidemics ,wars and in rainmaking
  • They believed in different types of spirits such as family spirits(Vadzimu), Clan spirits(Mhondoro) and national spirits(Chamiruka)
  • The Shona had a kinship system which was patrilineal(inheritance through the father
  • The community was divided into clans and clan names were coined from animal names such monkey, Leopard and elephant
  • They were a largely polygamous community where a man could marry many wives
  • They also practiced exogamy where marriage between related clans (paternal or maternal clan) was prohibited
  • They were relatively civilized owing to the fact that they lived in stone buildings
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