THE HISTORY AND 'RE-CONVERSION' OF THE VAREMBA OF ZIMBABWE BY EPHRAIM MANDIVENGA (University of Zimbabwe) Section I. THE HISTORY OF THE VAREMBA In 1810 Senhor Ferao, Captain of Sena, gave an account of the Portuguese possessions within the captaincy of Rios de Sena, in which he remarked: To the east-south-east of Sofala, at about four hundred yards distance, is situated the Moorish town, where the number of females is much greater than males, in consequence of the latter being merchants principally engaged at Mozambique, to be initiated into their several occupations. The only cir- cumstance that distinguishes them from other inhabitants is refraining from pork, and rejecting all sorts of meat that is not killed by the hands of one of their sect. In their habits, customs, languages, superstitions, songs and dances, they imitate the native.' I This constitutes the first reference in modern times to the presence of people in the Zambezi region possessing notably Islamic charac- teristics without being clearly Muslims. The people here referred to are given no name but their cultural characteristics have much af- finity with those we know today as Varemba.2 Moreover, this im- portant piece of evidence connects what we may
Journal of Religion in Africa – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1989
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