Tembo Wakapiwa is a Zimbabwean totem/mutupo/isibongo. The totem has a very long history among the indigenous societies which include the Shona, the Ndebele, Tonga, Venda, Kalanga, among others. Every totem has a branch which distinguishes it from the others. In Shona, these small branches are referred to as chidawo in Shona. In this particular instance, Wakapiwa is the chidawo for the totem.

Tembo Wakapiwa, which belongs to the main Tembo cluster has a close relationship with the zebra and its taboos includes refraining from zebra meat. It has for long been used as a form of identity; identifying people of a particular totem with a unique social, economic, or historical background and past. It was thus a common unifying factor which bound together individuals, families and clans.

Totems in Zimbabwe are not a thing of the past despite the changes that have come with time. Many people are still identified by their respective totems. Like other totems in Zimbabwe, the Tembo Wakapiwa totem is used in addressing elders, and is also associated with family dignity and respect. It has also been used in praise poetry, thanksgiving, even in times of mourning.

See Totems, Zimbabwe.

Shona Praise Poem

Hekanhi Tembo,
Vari Machecheche,
Rukono rwaBhenhura,
Vari Zimbabwe,
Nyewe dzaZvezve,
Maita vari Mandedza,
VokwaKuringambizi huringa makumbo,
Kumusoro kune hwara,
Zvaitwa vari Mandedza
Mwana waWachekwemwoyo,
Aiwa zvaonekwa vokwaZiki,
Vamambwa matema.[1]


  1. , Tembo Wkapiwa,Harare Tees, retrieved:16 Mar 2016"