MASHONA, a Bantu-negro people, inhabitants of Mashonaland, Southern Rhodesia. The name Mashona has been derived from the contemptuous term Amashuina applied by the Matabele to the aborigines owing to the habit of the latter of taking refuge in the rocky hills with which the country abounds. Before the Matabele invasion about 1840 most of Southern Rhodesia was occupied by the Makalanga, the Makorikori and the Banyai, all closely related. Most of them became subject to the Matabele, but although they suffered severely from their attacks, the Mashona preserved a certain national unity. In 1890 the Mashona came under British protection (see RHODESIA). They are in general a peaceful, mild-mannered people, industrious and successful farmers, skilful potters, and weavers of bark cloth.
The crafts, however, in which they excel are the smelting and forging of iron and wood-carving. They are also great hunters; and they are very fond of music, the most usual instrument being the " piano " with iron keys. Bows and arrows, assegais and axes are the native weapons, but all who can get them now use guns. Up to their conquest by the Matabele the Mashona worked the gold diggings which are scattered over their country; indeed as late as 1870- certain Mashona were still extracting gold from quartz (Geog. Jour. April 1906).
For the possible connexion of these people with the builders of the ruins at Zimbabwe and elsewhere, see RHODESIA: Archaeology; and ZIMBABWE.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)