One of the most fought battles in modern history, after the battle for social progress, is the battle for identity survival and recognition. In South Africa, since the 1800s, there has been a pattern of writing history depicting and describing Vatsonga as:
- People who “came” to “South Africa” from “Mozambique”, but at the same time, when it suits them, Vatsonga are depicted as;
- People who “ran away” from the Zulu people in South Africa.
The first depiction is backed by the argument that there are Vatsonga in Mozambique, therefore, reducing Vatsonga to a status of last class citizens of South Africa. When the imperialist’s demarcation of Africa as a whole and the subsequent scrambling of our land; almost EVERY “country” was left with ethnic groups that existed in one or two, and even three countries. Looking at South Africa, there is no single ethnic group which can’t be found outside South Africa. The second depiction is meant to be used as justification to dispossess Vatsonga in Limpopo and Mpumalanga of the land they had occupied long before there was “South Africa” or long before there was Transvaal and Natal.
Trade posts that show Vatsonga were in South African before the Nguni:
- By the time the Arab, Chinese and Indian traders could reach the south of Sofala trade port (some of the important trade posts north of Sofala were Daar, Kilwa and Mombasa), Vatsonga were already in an advanced stage of any organised society. Therefore, long before the arrival of Europeans in the late 1490s (they feed you 1652 for strange political reasons), the Europeans first found that Vatsonga were controlling what is called Saint Lucia Bay today as a trade post.
- The next trade post was Mpfumu (later called Delagoa Bay); both trade posts were under the undisputable authority of the Tembe Monarchy. Tembe Dynasty predates Mfecane by about 500 years. But Tembe’s land was cut into two colonies. The land and people of Tembe who were left in Natal Province, were forced by every Natal Administration and every South African administration to be subject of the Zulu tribe, even though the Tembe arrived in the area long before Mnguni, and Zulu ancestor arrived in the area.
- The next trade post was Chibuweni, which was the most developed in terms of architecture; the ruins are still there even today. If Chibuweni was the trade post, Manyikeni was a political post, since it is a bit far from the coast. Even the Manyikeni ruins are still there even today.
In what was to be called the Transvaal, the Dutch had encountered Vatsonga who occupied both sides of what is Kruger National Park today. In fact, the very same park was created by displacing a significant number of Vatsonga. The presence of ruins and various archeological evidence (including the one done in Swaziland) show that Vatsonga had been around with a distinct culture, which was advanced in mining, pottery, iron and gold smiting, trade and commerce, sea fishing, animal husbandry and organised labour.
But you will never read about this version of “South African History”.
Note: The last entrants of SA are the Shangaan, and not Vatsonga | Read Difference Betweeen Tsonga and Shangaan