PEOPLE, PLACES & PULPED PALAVER: The Vadoma (Ostrich People) in Zimbabwe.

In Zimbabwe, in the Kayemba region around the basins of Mwazamutanda River, live the Vadoma tribe. Commonly referred to as the Ostrich people, the Vadoma are traditional hunters and gatherers, and an indigenous tribe in Zimbabwe. They predominantly live in isolation in the mountains which is presently the Chewore Safari Area. Modernization and new laws of land have interfered with their nomadic lives. They live alongside the Shona and Kunda people, and speak Dema language other than the Korekore Shona and Kunda languages. Apparently, the Shona is the largest indigenous tribe in Zimbabwe, with the Korekore, Karanga,Manyika, Ndawu, Rozwi and Zezuru all speaking the Shona dialect. The siNdebele, on the other hand is a dialect soken by 1 out of every 5 Zimbabweans. These are mostly by the Kalanga and Northern Ndebeles.

What uniquely identifies and sets apart the Vadoma from other tribes in Zimbabwe is the hereditary ectrodactyly condition among some of the families. 1 out every 4 children is affected by the ectrodactyly condition. The rare condition has a 1:1,000 chance of occurrence at birth normaly, almost similar to chances of getting identical twins. It is characterized by absence of the middle three toes, whereas the other two are turned in. The individuals appear to have two toes on their limbs, hence referred to as the ostrich footed tribe. Medically, it is explained as an autosomal condition that results from a single mutation on chromosome 7. In the Vadoma tribe, those with the condition are considered part of the society and not discriminated against. Interestingly, tribal laws forbid marrying from outside the tribe, hence containing the condition within the families.

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