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The Tsonga Identity Test – Xana wa titiva?

The Tsonga Ethnic group is currently experiencing an identity crisis, whether in Swaziland, Mozambique, South Africa or Zimbabwe – swa fana. Vatsonga don’t fully understand their identity, language and history – and as a result, there are many varying contradictions from government institutions, royal houses and the masses.

For example, the lobby group of Gazankulu (House of Mhinga, Nxumalo & Fofoza) used their political power to stop the National Party’s decision to disband Vatsonga, however, they went on to sideline the rest of the ethnic group and pushed their own agenda’s.  In Zimbabwe, after years of not being recognized by the government, Vatsonga submitted the wrong name as their official name, even though majority of Vatsonga in Zimbabwe are Vahlengwe and not amashangane.

Its 2016, Xitsonga doesn’t have a unified orthography, and Vatsonga don’t have an agreed version of history. Our trusted academics disagree over the semantics of our language, identity and history.

Vatsonga are confused, a va byi twisisi Vutsonga.

The Tsonga Identity Test is based on semantics, historic events, tribal labels and political dynamics. The test is designed to highlight contradictions in one’s understanding of Vutsonga.


  1. Where do Vatsonga originate from?
  2. Where is the ancestral land ya Machangani?
  3. Do Machangani originate from KwaNongoma or Mozambique? 
  4. Was Soshangane Nxumayo, a Muchangani or umZulu?
  5. Which branch of the Ndwandwe people are amashangane?
  6. Is Tsonga the same thing as Shangaan?
  7. Did Soshangani defeat and rule all Vatsonga in his lifetime?
  8. Are all Vatsonga Shangaan or are all Machangani Tsonga?
  9. Which came first between Vatsonga & Machangani?
  10. Are Machangani an ethnic group?
  11. How many groups make up the Tsonga ethnic group?
  12. What’s the difference between Tsonga, Tonga and Rhonga?
  13. Is Xichangani an identity or a language?
  14. Is it true that Xitsonga is over a thousand years old?
  15. Which language group does Xichangani fall under?
  16. What language do Machangani (o’Ndwandwe) speak?
  17. Gwambe na Dzavani i vo mani?
  18. Xana swihluke swa Nghunghunyani ku vuliwa va ka mani?
  19. Why does no government recognize the Vatsonga-Machangani double barrel tag?
  1. Did Soshangani speak Xichangani or Xingoni?
  2. What was the superior language eGaza Kingdom?
  3. Why is it that, when Nghunghunyani was arrested by the colonialists, he said that he did not like to be treated as a Mutsonga?
  4. Did you know Machangani are assimilated into three groups – Swati, Ndau & Tsonga?
  5. What was the language spoken in Bushbuckridge by the Khosa and Mnisi clans before the arrival of Mpisani in 1897?
  6. Why is it that up to 1973, the chief of the Amashangaan (Machangani) Tribal Authority refused the teaching of Xitsonga in the land he ruled?
  7. Why did the same chief opt for the teaching of the Zulu language instead of Xichangani?
  8. Why is it that in all records from as late as 1600s, there is no record of people called Machangani or language called Xichangani?
  9. Why is it that the Mozambican national census of 1980 (the first after independence) does not have an entry for Machangani and Xichangani?
  10. Where is the list of battles that secured the Nxumalo’s rule of all 13 major Tsonga groupings?
  11. Can you please give the details and outcome of the Battle of Xidwacini and Battle of Xihaheni?
  12. Who is Hosi Makupulani and Hosi Xipenenyani?
  13. Who is Hosi Xongela?
  14. Machangani i Vangoni, right?
  15. So are Vahlengwe, Valenge, Vahlave, Vabila, Vakhosa, Vaxika, Valoyi, Vahlanganu, Vanxingwidzi, Valambya, Vankomati, Varhonga and the rest of the tribes also Nguni?
  16. Who is Gasa Nxumayo?
  17. Before Soshangaani and Nghunghunyani, who was King of Vatsonga?
  18. Did you know Vatsonga in other countries do not call each other Magaza?
  19. Do Machangani na Vangoni eat fish?
  1. Ririmi ra wena ra le kaya (L1) leri i nga dyondziwa exikolweni i yini?
  2. Munhu loyi a tivitanaka hi vito ra kokwa wa un’wani i vuriwa yini?
  3. Lexi endlaka Muhlengwe a ku yhe i Muchangani kambe Muchangani a ala ku vuriwa Muhlengwe i yini?
  4. Xana wa pfumela kuri Mucopi i Mun’wanati, kambe Maluleke i Muchangani?
  5. If u hlamule INA ka #42: famba tlela!
  6. Mutsonga a hi wa rimhondzo swi vula yini?
  7. Xana xivongo xa wena xi wela eka rixaka rihi ra Vutsonga, u Mukhosa, Muhlave, Muhlengwe, Mulozwi kumbe?



1 – Great Lakes & present-day South Sudan – 2 – KwaNongoma, KwaZulu-Natal – 3 – KwaNongoma – 4 – He was umNdwandwe – 5 – amaNdwandwe who left with KwaNongoma with Soshangani. Today they are found among Vatsonga, Vandau and amaSwati – 6 – Vatsonga are an ethnic group. Shangaans are a Tsonga grouping (tribe) – 7 – No. – 8 – No. Only a minority of Vatsonga are Shangaan & Not all Shangaans are Tsonga – 9 – Vatsonga – 10 – No. They are a tribe that exists outside their ethnic group of origin (Nguni) – 11 – There 13 major groupings (tribes) – 12 – There is no difference – 13 – Xichangani is a colonial label for Xitsonga, such a language does not exist – 14 – Yes. – 15 – Xichangani is not a language – 16 – Some speak Xitsonga, some isiSwati, and some Xindawu – 17 – Gwambe i kokwa Valoyi (Varodzwi). Dzavane, i kokwwa Van’wanati (Valenge) – 18 – Va ka Nxumalo –19 – Vatsonga-Machangani is a political tag coined in 1961 by house of Mhinga, Fafoza and Nxumalo

20 – He spoke isiLala (Nguni) – 21 – Xingoni (isiLala). Xitsonga a xi yirisiwa – 22 – He traded Tsonga slaves, he regarded Vatsonga as inferior – 23 – They don’t teach this version of history at schools – 24 – Xitsonga xa Xihlanganu – 25 – Ndwandwe rulers are historically anti-Xitsonga. They rule hi Xingoni – 26 – amashangaane are de facto Zulu subjects – 27 – The Gaza identified as Nguni. Their non-Nguni wardogs were called Amabuyandlela – 28 – There was no classification of “Machangani” ku vula Vatsonga or ku vula amashangaane – 29 – Soshangaan, Mawere, Muzila & Nghunghunyani have never conquered the Tsonga ethnic group – 30 – At Xidwachini, va ka Khosa va hlule Sochangani. At Xihaheni, va ka Valoyi na va ka Khosa va hlule Sochangani a tsutsuma – 31 – Hosi Makupulani, won all the battles against Vangoni, he was poisoned by a Nguni spy. Hosi Xipenenyani, assisted in the capturing of Nghunghunyani & later declared war against the Portuguese settlers – 32 – Hosi Xongela, ruled in the late 1890s, allied with the Portuguese and Hosi Xipenenyani to defeat Nghunghunyani – 33 – Yes. – 34 – No. Each tribe has its own origin – 35 – Gasa u veleki Zikode, tata Sochangani – 36 – Mutsonga a hi wa rimhondzo. We can’t have a King; our society was not created by warriors – 37 – Magaza was a tag for Vatsonga from former Gazankulu – 38 – No. Swa yirisiwa swa le matini eka Vangoni

39 – i Xitsonga – 40 – i hlonga – 41 – Hi xilungu ve i Identity crisis – 42 – Maluleke i Mun’wanati, Van’wanati i Valenge – 44 – Tsonga is not a lineage, it’s a way of life (code)  

Xana wa titiva?

Reading Material:

  1. Tsonga Identity – simplified in 330 words
  2. Difference between Tsonga & Shangaan in 500 words
  3. The Tsonga ethnic group summed up in one image
  4. The Tsonga arrival in Southern Africa from 200 AD (Oral History)
  5. Tsonga history SA government “forgot” to include in its version
  6. Shangaan-Tsonga Dynamics in Mozambique
  7. Tsonga Research Bibliography for Beginners
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