African Poems

Oral Poetry from Africa

Tag: Zebra

Praise Poem of the Shumba Tembo Samaita

A previous Shona clan praise published here was of the Shumba Murambwi, whose totem is the lion. The following clan praise is of the Tembo-Shumba, the “Zebra-Lion”, a mythical totem animal that serves as the emblem of the Mutasa people, whose homestead is Manyikaland in eastern Zimbabwe. By fusing together the attributes of the lion and the zebra into one mythical creature the clan creates a sacred totem that personifies the qualities they claim to represent themselves and their ancestors.

Thank you, Zebra.
Thank you Chiwara,
Hornless beast of the wilderness,
The Well Dressed One…

Zebra II

Another hunters’ description of the Zebra (see also the Shona praise-poem Zebra). This one is a Khoi-Khoi poem from South Africa.

Target of the hunting shepherd boys
Whose head is too swift for the throwing stick…


An extract from a Shona Praise-Poem from Zimbabwe, the clan praise of Chihota’s clan. For Chilota’s people the zebra is a symbol, and the sparkling description of the zebra is a metaphor for the qualities of the clan.

Thank you, Zebra,
Adorned with your own stripes

African Poems