International Journal of
Sociology and Anthropology

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. Sociol. Anthropol.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2006-988X
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJSA
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 305

Full Length Research Paper

Water spirits and the conservation of the natural environment: A case study from Zimbabwe

Collis Garikai Machoko
  Huntington University, Ramsey Lake Road, Sudury Ontario P3E 2C6, Canada.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 13 August 2013
  •  Published: 30 November 2013



Currently in Zimbabwe, there is serious environmental degradation. This work advocates that the traditional and modern approaches to natural environmental conservation could be integrated into a new conservation paradigm. Such integration would help restore to the Zimbabwean psyche a reverence for water spirits and a respect for the sacredness of the natural environment. The research finding shows that there were tensions between the natural environmental conservation approaches of Shona African Traditional Religion (ATR) devotees and Zimbabwean western modernity adherents. The finding also shows that the disdain for and rejection of water spirits contributed to the environmental failure. In a mechanistic model of the natural environment, the power and authority of water spirits in Zimbabwe have been usurped by western modernity. The majority of Zimbabweans in their thinking and action encouraged and promoted the western mind set in determining how the natural environment could be protected, treated, and managed without respecting water spirits. The conclusion was that for over a century now, Zimbabwean attitudes towards water spirits and the natural environment gradually moved from one of intimate relationship and contact to one of alienation and disengagement because of the use of a rationalistic modernity approach which appeared to have little room for the respect of water spirits.


Key words: Environment, modernity, integration, spirit, technology, water.