VaDoma: “the ostrich tribe” residing in Zimbabwe

Africa as a continent is peculiar and unique with different tribes and traditional systems. It is full of life and diversity. Inhabited by over 3,000 tribes, it prompts curiosity to dig and unearth the identity of these tribes.

The Doma or VaDoma also known as Dema, are a tribe living in the Kanyemba region in the north of Zimbabwe, especially in the Urungwe and Sipolilo districts around the basins of Mwazamutanda River, a tributary of the Zambezi River Valley.

Their language is Dema which bears similarity to the dominant Shona language of Zimbabwe. They believe that their ancestors came from a baobab tree. Predominantly, hunter-gatherers, the secluded tribe is Zimbabwe’s only non-agricultural society.

They are not active participators in agriculture. In fact, agricultural activities seem hard to engage for the VaDoma Tribe due to the rare genetic disorder they suffer.

The VaDomas suffer from the syndrome called “Ectrodactyly Claw”. This means they are born with missing toes and fingers. The middle three toes are absent and the two outer ones are turned in, resulting in the coined name: “ostrich-footed”. They come out with legs or fingers that could be interpreted as mysterious or something remarkable—a wonder. Instead of the usual five fingers or toes, they have only two toes that resemble a claw. Fortunately, this defect is only suffered by a considerable minority of VaDomas.

Well, you might want to evaluate the possibility of whether they can stroll past a few yards! They do. The VaDoma people can stand upright when they want to gather fruits and hunt animals.

It is a “for life” scenario for those suffering from Ectrodactyly. Due to their tribe’s isolation, they have been able to maintain Ectrodactyly but also, allow for the condition to be much more frequent amongst themselves, than anywhere else. The VaDoma people don’t marry outside their tribe.

You might get into trouble if you regard the VaDomas as disabled people owing to the fact that they are better tree climbers – probably more than you and I. They do not regard themselves as disabled.

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