Welcome to Zimbabwe

We loved learning how to make films. Now we have the chance to show you Zimbabwe's culture. Take a look at our traditional instruments - the mbira and marimba - and learn how they're made and played. And see a skilled craftsman of Shona sculpture. We hope you enjoy watching our films as much as we enjoyed making them.

Marimba maker

Making a marimba

The marimba is a popular traditional instrument in Zimbabwe and Godfrey is keen to find out exactly how this wooden xylophone is made.

Welcome to Zimbabwe

Hello. My name is Godfrey. And mine is Florence.

Welcome to Zimbabwe. Music, sport and art are very important in Zimbabwe. Through our videos, we have chance to show you some of the things Zimbabweans feel passionate about. And you'll see how adults are happy to pass on their knowledge and enthusiasm to the next generation.


Football dreams

The juniors in Zimbabwe love their football and they’re lucky to have some very special and dedicated coaches to train and inspire them, including a top player from one of the premier league clubs.

Poverty & Healthcare

Reduced life expectancy

The HIV/AIDS epidemic has been largely responsible for reducing life expectancy in Zimbabwe to 49 years.

Climate & Agriculture

Tobacco and maize

Tobacco is the key agricultural export of Zimbabwe, while maize/corn is the staple food crop grown for the domestic market.


Africa has a high number of communicable diseases, which place a huge burden on healthcare systems. The vast majority of malaria cases and HIV/AIDS-related deaths occur in Africa; these two diseases currently represent the greatest threats.

With low investment in healthcare and a severe shortage of medical staff, many countries struggle to meet the health needs of their people.

Tourism & Communications

Natural beauty

While Zimbabwe currently has few tourists, visitors to the country enjoy stunning landscapes and a wealth of natural beauty.

Growing up

Sticking together

Patrick and Shamiso are both orphans in their family. They live together and talk about how they manage to survive each month – but only with a little help.

People & Culture

The local arts

Zimbabwe is known for its art and music, particularly Shona sculpture and the traditional sound of the mbira.

Games & Sport

Africa is home to arguably the oldest-recorded games and sports. While some are only known through archaeology, modern-day games and sports such as Mancala/Mankala and Nubian wrestling are very much alive today.

Of course, new sports have come along to claim the attention of Africans. You may have heard of one - it's called football.

Agriculture & Famine

A quarter of the population of sub-Saharan Africa is undernourished and famines can impact whole regions.

Land is available to grow more food locally, but investment is needed in  technologies such as irrigation for land to be used effectively. Farmers must also adapt to climate change if they are to feed the continent's rising population.


Africa has some of the most distinctive cuisines and flavours in the world. Food varies widely, but there are commonalities across regions. Depending on what's grown locally, dishes are also influenced by the traders, immigrants and rulers who settled across the continent. Arab, Asian and European elements blend in with traditional African cooking.


Africa is a massive continent, with a range of climates. Some regions are hot and dry, like the Sahara, Kalahari and Namib deserts. Other parts are wet or covered in tropical rainforest. Conditions also vary by altitude, from the dry salt pans of the Danakil Depression (one of the lowest points on earth) to the snowcaps (at certain times) of the highest mountains. Weather-wise, Africa has it all!

Facts & Figures

A high number of orphans

Over a million children in Zimbabwe have lost either one or both parents. Find some other key facts about the country here.

Geography & Wildlife

Varied landscapes

Zimbabwe has a varied range of habitats, from the dry scrubland of the south (bordering the Kalahari desert), wide stretches of savannah and the verdant forests and bracken hills of the Eastern highlands.

Children's stories

Our Stories

Some of the youngsters from the SOS Children’s Villages have made films of stories they would like to tell. One is a strong morality tale, while the other is a very personal story.

History & Politics

Ancient empires

During the 11th–15th centuries, the Shona peoples built a powerful kingdom and the remains of this great empire can still be seen today in Zimbabwe.


‘People are the real wealth of a nation.’ This is the belief of the United Nations, whose Millenium Development Goals provide a framework for improving the lives of millions.

It helps when nations are peaceful, stable and growing economically. But where even the poorest countries focus on health, education and creating fairer societies, more Africans have the chance of a better life.

Our home

Home life

The youngsters of one SOS family show round their home and garden, while their SOS mother is busy watering the vegetables.


The first humans are thought to have lived in Africa and powerful African empires formed from the medieval age onwards.

However, today's African nations were shaped by the European powers who colonised this vast continent. Having gained their independence, many African countries are still coming to terms with the legacy left by their colonisers.

Economy & Industry

Growing exports

Mining revenues are growing, giving an important boost to the Zimbabwean economy.


Across the rest of the world, absolute poverty has halved over recent decades, but in Africa it has barely fallen.

About two-fifths of the population of sub-Saharan Africa survive week by week on what someone in the UK earns from just one hour's work on the minimum wage.

Geography & Wildlife

With its varied geography and diverse habits, the African continent is home to a wide range of flora and fauna. Though famous for its 'big game' animals, Africa has huge numbers of fish, mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian and insect species, as well as many tree, plant and flower species.

Food & Daily life

A maize land

The staple food is maize/corn, which forms the basis of many meals, drinks and snacks.

Education & Jobs

High unemployment

With a lack of employment, many Zimbabweans rely on cottage industries in the informal sector or leave to find work abroad.


Mbira magic

The mbira has been played in Zimbabwe for many centuries. In the video, the SOS children sing along to the beautiful sound of this ancient instrument.


A woman’s status varies by country and region across Africa. In many parts, women struggle against inequality in laws, education, pay and domestic responsibilities.

Women’s health is also at risk from traditional practices such as early marriage. But with better education, girls can make more informed choices, leading to the greater development of African nations.


Around one in six children born in sub-Saharan Africa don't live to see their fifth birthday and life can be tough for those who do.

What are the common challenges facing African children and how do their lives compare with those of children in the UK?


Rock art

Different local stones are used by craftsmen in Zimbabwe to make their very distinctive Shona sculptures. See one example of a rock ‘before’ and ‘after’ being carved.

Zimbabwe map

Explore Zimbabwe

Find some of the key cities, sites of interest and national parks on this map of Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe topics Facts & Figures Poverty & Healthcare Food & Daily life Growing up People & Culture Geography & Wildlife Climate & Agriculture Marimba maker Mbira Welcome to Zimbabwe Football Economy & Industry Sculpture Education & Jobs Children's stories History & Politics Our home Zimbabwe map Tourism & Communications