A Zimbabwean Past

Shona Dynastic Histories and Oral Traditions

D. N. Beach



A Zimbabwean Past examines Shona political history prior to 1900, particularly as revealed by oral traditions. The book concentrates not on the great Shona states, but on smaller territories and ruling dynasties that are more reflective of Shona political history as a whole. Having undertaken fieldwork in the central and southern Shona areas, Beach plays to his strengths and focuses his book on nearly 100 ruling dynasties in this region.


... this book is one that all scholars of Zimbabwe will want to have on hand. Together with , The Shona and Zimbabwe, 900-1850, Beach's latest book constitutes one of the few basic reference works on precolonial Shona political history. It is an important addition to the literature. - Elizabeth Schmidt, Journal of Southern African Studies


David Norman Beach was a Zimbabwean historian. He worked at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the University of Zimbabwe and pioneered the documentation of oral traditions in Zimbabwe. He died in 1999.