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Tsonga Identity – simplified in 330 words

1. Is there such a thing as an “Original” Mutsonga?

There is NO such thing as “original” Tsonga group/clan. Vutsonga is not a lineage/sanguine identity – It is about heritage, culture, language and geography. Tsonga identity is very ancient to be determined by the present nomenclature of clans. Hence, you find the name Tsonga/Tonga in many geographical set ups, as far north as Tanzania and Malawi. The only time we can have an “original” something, is when those people trace their identity to a common ancestor. Anyone (be a Mutsonga or otherwise) who says kuri ku na “original” Vatsonga is still confused about this matter.

2. Who led Vatsonga to the South hikuva hi hava Hosi?

Hence the saying, Mutsonga a hi wa rimhondzo. We can’t have a King; our society was not created by warriors. Vatsonga are a Horizontal society and not vertical. The idea of a Tsonga king, in the past or future, comes from those who try to define the Tsonga identity in the present set up of Zulu society or, in the previous experience of Gaza rule over Vatsonga. This question tends to imply that Vatsonga “came” to South Africa. This is a historical lie that aims to ignore the fact that colonial powers created borders eka misava ya Vatsonga.

3. Where does the name Tsonga come from?

This name is very ancient, but in the present historical context, Tsonga/Rhonga/Tonga means Eastern.
Rhonga is a south-eastern coastal pronunciation.
Tsonga is a mainland southern and northern pronunciation.
Tonga is the north-eastern pronunciation.

4. What is Shangaanism?

“Shangaanism is a systematic campaign in the present Tsonga context that aims to legitimize the idea that Vatsonga as a people, are either all descendants of Soshangani or are subjects of his fallen kingdom. Therefore, reducing the existence of Vatsonga to beginning of Mfecane and at the same time, denying the existence of Vatsonga prior Soshangani’s birth. This is a lie that, unfortunately, most Vatsonga believe because they were born and were raised hearing it.” – Teleti Khosa


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