By Upsocl
octubre 9, 2020

People might think that the Vadoma tribe members have an evident disability, but their only real problem is not being able to find sneakers that fit. They use their unique feet to climb trees with ease and collect food.

Throughout the years there have been many popular myths and legends, where the protagonists have had animal features. Of course, they are largely fictitious but occasionally such things can come to pass. 

Such is the case in Zimbabwe, in the heart of the African continent, where a tribe is famous for having a characteristic that is unique in the mythological world: “Ostrich” feet.


A large part of the Vadoma tribe’s members have split-feet malformations and only have two toes. That’s where the arguably extremely accurate ostrich reference originates from.

The genetic condition that explains these unique feet is known as Ectrodactyly and it’s characterized by the absence of key fingers or toes on the hands and feet. The condition is practically unique to this tribe because their laws forbid sexual relations or marriage outside of the group. For this reason, the genetic condition isn’t visible in other tribes, yet in the Vadoma tribe one in every four babies inherits the condition.

vía Face 2 Face Africa

The first man to record encounters with this tribe was Jan Jacob Hartsinck, director of the Dutch East India Company, in 1770. However it wasn’t until the middle of the 20th century the tribe’s story was known about globally. 

Of course, you might think that the unique feet could pose a problem for those who have them, they may be subject to disapproving glances, as well as not being able to find sneakers anywhere.

But within the Vadoma tribe these ostrich feet are not considered to be a disability; in fact, it’s thought that their toes help them to climb trees more easily.

Perhaps the feet are a blessing for this tribe, as they are the only group in Zimbabwe that doesn’t depend on agriculture for survival but rather on collecting and accumulating food.

Have you heard about them before?