Country Facts

Celebrations and national holidays

Many Zimbabweans celebrate the Christian holidays (Good Friday, Easter, Christmas Day, Boxing Day). Other major holidays are New Year’s Day (Jan 1), Independence Day (April 18), International Workers’ Day (May 1), Africa Day (May 25) and National Unity Day (December 22). Most holidays are celebrated by spending time with family.

Food: taboos and favourites

  • Sadza is a staple food – a stiff porridge-like starch made from mealie meal (ground maize flour). It is typically eaten with meat stew and leafy green vegetables.
  • International cuisine and fast food – international as well as local chains are available in cities and tourist hotspots.
  • Braais (BBQs) are a popular weekend activity. Expect a lot of meat, beer and good conversation!

Key words

  • Now now‘, ‘just now‘ and ‘now’ all have different meanings. Generally ‘now now’ means it is likely to happen soon. ‘Just now’ means ‘later’. Do not expect anything to happen immediately. ‘Now’ means ‘eventually’ – and it may never happen.
  • Braai – a barbecue
  • Shame is used to express sympathy in a light way. (“You left your umbrella at home? Shame hey.”)
  • Howzit? (how is it?) is a greeting meaning ‘hello’.

Landmarks and places of cultural significance

  • Victoria Falls – international tourist hotspot; one of the seven wonders of the natural world.
  • Great Zimbabwe – stone ruins of a settlement dating back to the 11th century.
  • Chinhoyi Caves – network of caves
  • Kariba Dam – separates Zimbabwe and Zambia; popular with holidaymakers
  • Nyanga – mountainous region bordering Mozambique; also popular with holidaymakers
  • Hwange National Park – safaris.

Language skills and foreigners

Zimbabwe has 16 official languages with English, Shona and Ndebele being the most widely spoken. You can generally rely on being able to communicate with people in English wherever you go, and you’ll find English street signs, public notices, everywhere in the country. English is the official business language.

Music genres

Western music is popular, as well as music from South Africa and West African musicians. Traditional instruments include the mbira (thumb piano) and marimba. Popular musicians Oliver Mtukudzi and Jay Prayzah mix traditional modern styles.

Favourite sports

Football is extremely popular. Many people support English Premier League clubs as well as the Zimbabwean national team, the Warriors. After football, cricket is the most widely-followed sport. For many years the national cricket team enjoyed high international standing. Rugby is also popular amongst middle- and upper-class Zimbabweans.

Symbols of identity

The Zimbabwe bird (a stone carving dating back to the 11th century) is the country’s national symbol. It appears on the flag and the currency. Replica carvings are available for sale at craft markets throughout the country.