The present article contributes to understanding of the Zimbabwe political institution of the southern portion of the Zambesi Valley based on the conceptualization of its population, between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. We reconstruct the local perceptions of this institution by detecting information provided by local persons as recounted in Portuguese ethnographic documents. The original information underwent different types and degrees of translation and editing to reach the forms recorded in these documents. We present a critical process of recovering local voices, ideologies, and conceptualizations from written literal translations of excerpts of oral statements that can serve as a valuable methodological tool in expanding our understanding of the history of early African politics.
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