Daily Activities on a Shona Rural Farm

A Day in the Life of a Small-scale Farmer in Zimbabwe


  • kudya kwemangwanani – breakfast
  • munda/purazi – farm
  • murimi – farmer
  • zvipfuyo – livestock
  • mombe/mhou – cow
  • mbudzi – mbuzi
  • huku – chicken
  • zai/mazai – egg/eggs
  • market – musika
  • kumuka – to wake up
  • feed the cows – fudza mombe
  • to milk cows – kukama mombe
  • grow crops – murime zurima
  • collect eggs – unganidza mazai
  • go to the market – enda kumusika
  • work on the farm – shenda papurazi
  • be tired – kuneta

A Farmer Talking about a Typical Day on the Farm

“Manheru akanaka! Ini ndinonzi Joni. Ndiri murimi. Ndine mombe shanu nembudzi gumi. Huku yangu ine gumi futi. Ndinorimawo zvirimwa. Ndinorima chibage, bhinzi nenzungu. Ndinotengesa mukaka, mazai nemuriwo.

Ndinomuka mangwanani ega ega. Ndinokama mombe. Ndinodya kudya kwemangwanani. Ndinoendesa mhuka kumafuro. Dzimwe nguva ndinoenda kumusika. Dzimwe nguva ndinorenda purazi. Ini ndinochengeta huku masikati. Manheru ndaneta. Ndinokurumidza kurara nekuti ndinomuka mangwanani-ngwanani.

“Good evening! My name is Joni. I am a farmer. I have five cows and ten goats. My chicken are ten too. I also cultivate crops. I grow corn, beans, and peanuts. I sell milk, eggs, and vegetables.

I get up at daybreak every morning. I milk the cows. I eat breakfast. I take the animals to the pasture. Sometimes I go to the market. Sometimes I rent a farm. I take care of the chickens during the day. By the evening I’m tired. I go to sleep early because I wake up early in the morning.”

Grammar Notes: Simple Tenses

As indicated before, Shona is an agglutinative language. Tenses are indicated by prefixes. The typical verb structure starts with the pronoun marker, followed by the tense marker and then the verbal stem. Here are the various tenses in the context of a farm, using first, second and third person singular and plural, respectively.

Past Tense

  • Ndakaenda kumusika – Takaenda kumusika (I(nda-)/we(ta)-past(ka)-go(enda)) – I/We went to the market.
  • Ukaenda kumusika – Wakaenda kumusika – You/you (u- sing. pronoun marker, wa- plural marker) went to the market.
  • Akaenda kumusika – Vakaenda kumusika – (He/she)/they went to the market.

Present Tense

  • Ndiri kukama mombe – Tiri kukama mombe – I am/we are milking cows.
  • Uri kukama mombe – Wari kukama mombe – you/you are milking cows.
  • Ari kukama mombe – Vari kukama mombe – (he/she)/they are milking cows.

Future Tense

  • Ndichadya chirairo – Ndichadya chirairo – I/We will eat supper.
  • Uchadya chirariro – wachadya chirariro – You/You will eat supper.
  • Achadya chirariro – vachadya chirariro – (He/she)/They will eat supper.

Traditional Division of Labor Among the Shona

Division of labor among the Shona was gendered and age based. Women and girls did domestic work and less strenuous agricultural tasks like planting and weeding while men and older boys did the heavier agricultural work like clearing the land and preparing it for planting. Men also constructed houses and repaired them, took care of animals, assisted by boy herders. The Shona society was highly patriarchal. A man oversaw all aspects of production in his family (Grier, 30-31). Labor dynamics have changed over time, but the Shona society is still highly patriarchal.


Work Cited

Grier, Beverly. “Invisible Hands: The Political Economy of Child Labour in Colonial Zimbabwe, 1890-1930.” Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol. 20, No. 1, 1994, pp. 27-52. Accessed 10 November 2021.


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