Friday, June 15, 2012

The Shona Kittens!

Big City Little Kitty welcomes a new set of kittens for the summer of 2012, the Shona kittens! 
I helped a woman in my neighborhood with a TNR project and, well, kittens happen! I wrote a paper this semester on the naming customs of the Shona People of Zimbabwe. Names are very meaningful among the Shona. I am using names from an anthropologist's study on names in the Shona Society of Zimbabwe. The author is Livingstone Makondo and the study is called "An Investigation into the Anthropynyms of the Shona Society".  In the study, Makondo looked at personal names, this is where I have taken names for the new kittens.
Rufaro, “Joy” defined by Makondo as “a name that echoes the joyful mood at birth, an indication that the child was much awaited.” This name fits his personality; he is so full of energy and fun! He loves to play and is constantly pouncing and wrestling. He brings joy to everyone that sees him. He also loves to snuggle up with is mom and his litter mates.
This little girl is Chipochendenga, “A gift from [God] heaven”, described by Makondo as “Acknowledgement that the child must be a gift from God because they have never seen such a cute child.” But you can call her Chipo, “Gift”. Chipo is a cute little muffin. She is currently struggling through some parasite issues, but she’s taking her medicine like a good girl and I hope she is feeling better soon.
This tiny little guy is Tapiwa, “We have been given”.  Makondo says Tapiwa is “a name that is a sign that the child is one of nature’s gifts.” He was so tiny when found I was very worried. He is also struggling with parasites but with medicine I hope he will be well soon. He is having a hard time putting on weight and keeping food down. He is absolutely adorable and incredibly sweet and cuddly. He loves being held and cries to be picked up!
This is their mama, Olivia. She needs a Shona name, in addition to the name given to her by her care taker, so I call her Vimbai. Vimbai means “Trust” and according to Makondo the name “asks for transparency and deep thought before others condemn the namers”. I choose this name for many reasons. 
Vimbai and I are working together to care for her kittens and, even though she is incredibly protective and defensive, she and I both have to trust each other to a certain degree for our safety and the health and safety of the kittens. I also like that this name requests transparency and deep thought before condemning others. I think this is a wonderful thing to remember and important in caring for all beings. Vimbai is a very powerful name for a mama with such strong character. She is fiercely protective of her kittens as well as loving and nurturing to them.
In the spiritual hierarchy of the Shona religion, family spirits, called Vadzimu, are family members that have passed on. According to Kamudzandu, it is believed they stay close to their family as spirits and continue to provide their immediate family with guidance throughout their lives. Maybe Old Man Hemingway can play this role for his colony and these kittens. The Shona see ancestors as closer to God and send all prayers through them. They view death as the beginning of a divine life, not an end to life; therefore they have high respect for death. Traditional Shonas believe caring and love continues after death. They believe the dead live in a spiritual form and are considered to be “the living dead or living timeless”.  The Shona believe the living and the living dead co-exist. Perhaps Hemingway lives on as a spiritual guide, Vadzimu, to his colony and the Shona kittens.

For more pictures and information see them on my Flickr site.

Wish us luck! Check back for more updates later!

Sources for Shona information:
1. Makondo, Livingstone. 2009 An Investigation into the Anthropynyms of the Shona Society. University of South Africa.
2. KamudzanduIsrael. 2010 Abraham As Spiritual Ancestor: A Postcolonial Zimbabwean Reading of Romans 4. LeidenNetherlands: Brill.