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In Pictures: Who Are The Vadoma In Zimbabwe?


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The Vadoma, also known as the two toed, are a small tribe in Zimbabwe. Scientists say this is a rare genetic condition called 'ectrodactyly,' but the tribe itself says it is no defect. Their folklore includes stories of bird-like 'people' whom they regarded their ancestors.

The Vadoma.jpg

They say their ancestors 'came from the sky' and bred with the women. Most people in this small tribe have this kind of ostrich-like feet. A rare genetic condition or something else? You decide.

They speak the Dema language and believe their ancestors emerged from a baobab tree and walked upright to hunt and gather fruits. The secluded tribe is Zimbabwe’s only non-agricultural society.

The tribe is rather famous for having the rare genetic condition known as Ectrodactyly or lobster claw syndrome. This is the absence of one or more fingers or toes at birth.

The inherited dominant genetic mutation affects only the feet of one in four children within the vaDoma population. Their middle three toes are absent and the two outer ones are turned in.

Those with the condition are not considered disabled in the community and it is believed that their toes enable them to climb trees better.

The vaDoma people are reported to have resisted incorporation into the Korekore Shona kingdom of Mutapa prior to the European colonisation. This has cost them fertile land to grow crops.

They currently live their nomadic lifestyle in the Chewore Safari Area which has now become their mountain homeland. They are also facing threats from game rangers who are cracking down on poaching.