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Daily Xitsonga, Matimu

Introduction to Astronomy in Xitsonga

From ancient times, Astronomy was one of the fields Vatsonga respected and regarded in high esteem. According to ancient Tsonga analogy, it was believed that the Creator dwelt in Lwamumbi (Indian Ocean), and the stars were not only mere planets, they were symbols which sent messages.

The science of Astronomy was laid down by much earlier generations and not Vatsonga per say. In Tsonga Astronomical analogy, the UNIVERSE was created by MUMBI/MUVUMBI. Mumbi is said to be the Master of Astrology. Mumbi selects who to pass down the Knowledge of The Planets.

The Knowledge of Stars/Planets (Ntivo-Tinyeleti) as per tradition, used to be learned at Ntshava ya N’weti (Mountain of the Moon). This mountain is hardly traceable in the geographical locations inhabited by Vatsonga as of today. However, some have concluded that Ntshava Ya N’weti is a reference to Kilimanjaro. In the same analogy, it is said that Ntshava Ya N’weti is located in a place/land called Ka Ntsweti. Again, in the present context, there is no place called Ka Ntsweti with a Mountain of this magnitude. There is a belief that Ka Ntsweti could be a very ancient Tsonga name for “Pwent”, which is known as “Punt” in modern historical records. Punt is a name of a very ancient kingdom, which existed south of Kemit (Egypt).

This text showcases ancient astronomical knowledge in Xitsonga, which still exists among those who descend from those ancient astronomers. Note that it is not a very scientific text; it is just translation of very few terms in the field;

Ntivo-Tinyeleti – Astronomy

Matutu – Universe

Nkatsanyeti– Galaxy

Ribasani – Milkway

Nyelekati – Planet

Nsoko – Planet Orbit

Ntinyeti – Constellation

Mintinyeti – Constellations


Dyambu – Sun

Nyeleti – Star

N’weti – Moon

Nyelekatani – Comet

N’wamavavamele – Meteor

Xivavamelani – Meteorite

Tshukanyana – Asteroid


Malokotswani – Mars

Mahlahle / N’wagumba-xilalelo – Venus

Gongomela – Mercury

Misava – Earth

N’wankhatini – Neptune

Makulana – Jupiter

Ntavasi – Saturn

N’wakhubyanyana – Uranus

Kokolombani– Pluto


Nsiva-Dyambu – Solar Eclipse

Nsiva-N’weti – Lunar Eclipse

Mukhati –  Space (Above Ozone Layer)

Nkutulwani  Ozone Layer

Xibakabaka – Space (Below Ozone layer)

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