- Ndebele (Zimbabwe) Culture and beliefs -
Overview of the Culture and Religious beliefs of the Ndebele Tribe 
The Ndebele state was divided into three social groups, the Zansi, Enhla and Hole. Due to the social intermingling of the various classes / groups in Ndebele society, Ndebele religious and cultural practice became a hybrid of the beliefs and practices of the various peoples that made up the society. However it is important to give a profile of Ndebele culture as a product of cultural practice in Zululand. This was the practice of the Zansi, the original Ndebele who left Zululand with Mzilikazi.

Ndebele culture was centred on certain religious rituals. The king was regarded as the High priest of the nation, and unlike in Shona culture, Ndebele chiefs had no ritual functions beyond functioning as priests of their households and their extended families. Communication with the supernatural on problems such as droughts and epidemics was thus limited to the king only.

It must be noted that as the custodians of true Ndebele culture, the Zansi were unable check the influence of the Enhla and Hole on their beliefs and practices. The Hole had some similarities with the Zansi, but the greatest religious change to Ndebele society was the acceptance of the Mwari cult into Ndebele cultural beliefs and practice.

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By and large, the Ndebele believed in a creator, uNkulunkulu thought of as the first human being. Nkulunkulu and his wife, Mvelengani are said to have emerged out of a marshy place where they found cattle and grain already awaiting them in abundance. They lived together and had children to whom they passed on their culture and tradition, when they were old, they returned to the ground where they became snakes.

The Zansi, like the Nguni, had a notion of a high deity linked with the heavens, but no rituals were celebrated to this high god, as he was not distinguishable from the first ancestor who lived in the ground. However through possible influence from Christianity, Sotho-Tswana beliefs and Shona religion, the Zansi have come to insist that although they worshiped ancestral spirits directly, the spirits also acted as intercessors between the living and their high god. Zansi religious activity therefore centred around the worship of the ancestral spirits whom were called amadlozi.

The Zansi also conceived of man as made up of three aspects, the material and two spiritual beings. They believed that from birth to death, a person lived with a spirit, which looked after him and could bring good fortune of misfortune to him. This spirit was also called idlozi and a fine line of distinction existed between this spirit and the one that passed onto the ancestral world.

Amadlozi were considered very powerful and they had an active interest in the welfare of their living relatives. They required of the living to maintain proper relationships with them and wrong doers were sometimes severely punished. Amadlozi also secured their relatives from witchcraft and harmful magic.

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