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Matimu, Tinxaka ta Vutsonga

The year 2020 marks 200 years of Tsonga-Shangaan conflict 

Various people have tried to talk down the conflicting nature of the existence of amashangane among Vatsonga. For so many years, various scholars, governments, institutes and royal houses have advocated the sameness (not unity) of Vatsonga and amaShangaane. However, we are conscious of the fact that amaShangaane came to Vutsonga as invaders; they imposed themselves on our land, and they murdered hundreds of thousands, displaced hundreds of thousands, and they created distrust and wars among us.  

Let’s go back in time;

It’s the 1800s; the civilization of Vutsonga is furthermore disturbed, this time around by Manukuzi kaZikode, later known as Soshangani Nxumayo. u’Sochangana was a junior member of a Zwide clan, he was not Zulu as many would like us to believe. u’Sochangana arrived eVutsonga after 1819, running away from Shaka Zulu.

Manukuzi / Manukosi / Manukusi / Manukutsu
Sochangana / Sochangane / Soshangana / Soshangani / Soshangaan

When the Zulu people attacked and defeated the Zwide, for whatever reasons, Soshangani did not accept submission to Zulu, even though his King had submitted. Soshangani along with 200-300 soldiers fled KwaNongoma and the rest of the Zwide/Ndwandwe/Mkhatshwa/Langa remained and became subjects of Zulu, even to this day. Zwangendaba Hlatswayo also revolted against Zulu, which led him to eVutsonga first and Soshangani followed after him. Zwangendaba did not settle eVutsonga, he moved further north into present-day Malawi and Zambia. . Soshangani knew of the Tsonga people before he fled Ndwandwe country, his mother is of the Ncayi-Ncayi-Dlamini, a section of the Dlamini that had long settled among Vatsonga (VaBila) in their north-south migration. The Ncayi-Ncayi-Dlamini are directly linked to far earlier Hlubi groupings that once settled eVutsonga. Their main house is situated in a place today called Xai Xai (Ncayi-Ncayi/-Ntyayi-Ntyayi/¬Ntyali-Ntyali). 

When Manukuzi fled KwaNongoma, he had his back against the wall and he had to survive by all means. The Swazi-Dlamini gave him a wife, but that was not enough, he needed an army and resources to guarantee his survival. The Tsonga people had all the resources he required; and these were women (to continue his Nguni bloodline), mabulandlela (front line soldiers) to defend him against an eventual Zulu pursuit and to attack others for their resources.

“uSochangane, okade achanga imizi yamadoda nabafazi”

Soshangani’s first encounter was the Sambo/Maringa/¬Ndhimandhi cluster of the Vankomati, who lived between the Khosa, and the Xika cluster and the Swazi-Dlamini. He used the Sambo/Ndhimandi cluster against the Khosa Mbhanyele and was defeated near Nkomati River. Soshangani and his group of soldiers proceeded and defeated the N’wamba cluster and took their cows and women. Soshangani moved further into Vutsonga; he arrived in Khoseni land, eXidwachini (eTinghonyameni), and encountered fierce resistance from the south Limpopo clusters of Khosa and Valoyi. Though there were traitors and prisoners of war, the Ndwandwe lost and Soshangani had to cross Vembe (Limpopo River). After he crossed the Limpopo River he found small Nhlave clans easier to conquer, but the Nhlave of Gulatino of the Mavundza and Nhlave of Nhlongo, were a challenge he could not defeat. He also faced strong resistance from the Hlomani and Ngomani alliance with the assistance of the Mukhavele clan, which had squabble with the Ngomani, but they put it aside and faced the Nguni invasion in a united front. Then Soshangani faced the mighty Valenge/N’wanati tribes on one side and the fierce Vahlengwe on the other. At the same time, Shaka Zulu had sent his army which went as far as Limasi, a Vahlave stronghold. Soshangani then fled to north of Save, where he defeated the Ndzau section of Vakaranga, which was already devastated by another Mfecane group that had raided them.

Soshangani first settled in present-day Zimbabwe, and built his first kraal in Chipinge and named it Chayimiti. However, majority of people between Save and Zambezi are not Tsonga, and they are not referred to as Shangaan, which brings forth the question; why is it that only Vatsonga are Shanganised? After Soshangani agreed with both the British and Portuguese, who wanted to mine in the area, he left Chipinge and built the second Chayimiti kraal on land of the N’wanati, though inhabited by some Hlengwe clans. After the Hlengwe of Hlungwani ran away and settled in present-day Kruger National Park, only then Soshangani settled eVutsonga.

Powerful Tsonga Kingdoms, Chiefdoms and Senior Houses at the time of Soshangani;

  • The Valoyi had three Chiefdoms, that of Mkansi, Mbekwana and Nkami. They also had Senior Traditional Houses like Madzenga, Makaringi and Lowana (Xilowa).
  • The N’wanati were under the bannership of Mondlani, Maluleke, Simbini and Makwakwa Chiefdoms. They also had Senior Traditional Houses of Xivambu, Makhuvele, Manyike, Nkome and Hakamela.
  • The Khoseni Kingdom had Senior Traditional House of Magutsulani, Xisungele, Mbhokota, Rikhotso and Masiya.
  • The Manyisa were under Mpfumu under the leadership of Nondwane and all these Royal Houses fought and defeated Soshangane.
  • The Vahlengwe of Tshovani had made it clear they were nowhere near to be defeated.

The death of Soshangani led to a family feud which resulted in a battle between Muzila and Mawewe, both were the senior sons of Soshangani. Muzila was very friendly towards Vatsonga compared to Mawewe, who was cruel like his father Soshangani. Peace with the Khosa and N’wanati continued and there was no battles waged under Muzila against Vatsonga who were powerful. Muzila continued the Gaza agreements with the Portuguese to deal in Tsonga slaves… Things changed when Muzila’s son, Mdungazwe, later known as Nghunghunyane, took over from his father. Nghunghunyane, at the beginning was relatively friendly towards Vatsonga, but later changed. Nghunghunyane was influenced by his relatives who harbored hatred against Vatsonga and regarded them as slaves. Also, Nghunghunyane was influenced by the Portuguese and British who wanted Tsonga slaves, but were tired of dying during raids. It was during the reign of Nghunghunyane, who had settled nearby Chayimiti, where slave trade flourished. Tsonga men, women and children were captured in large numbers by Nghunghunyane and sold as slaves in Transvaal, Natal, the Cape, Madagascar, São Tomé, Brazil and Angola. The reign of terror of Nghunghunyane was felt mostly by small Tsonga clans… When the deal between Portugal and Nghunghunyani fell sour, the combination of Khoseni, Valoyi and Van’wanati under the leadership of Xipenenyana wa Bingwana and Nkuyu Nxumayo (though he was Nghunghunyani’s uncle, he was against the reign of Nguni terrorism eVutsonga), marched along Mousinho in the war that brought Nghunghunyane and Gaza down. The Dlamini of Ncayincayi helped bring Nghunghunyane down.

After arriving in Sabie around 1897, by 1960 the Amashangaan were elevated to Senior Chiefs thanks to their scheming with the then apartheid government. In 1973, the then ruler of Amashangaan, Mr Thulamahashi, wanted his own homeland in present-day Bushbuckridge; on land that was taken by force from va ka Khosa and va ka Mnisi, and given to his ancestors by Europeans. In this homeland, Xitsonga was to be made illegal, and Zulu made the official language on Tsonga land.

In the 21st century, the Amashangaan keep saying that they defeated Vatsonga; when asked where and when such defeats happened, the Amashangaan ruler, Mr Eric Nxumalo, i khoma a tshika (always fails to elaborate). Furthermore, Mr Eric Nxumalo said that Vatsonga don’t exist, he said this on national radio (MLFM), and he declared this before two Tsonga rulers that Vatsonga do not exist. Unfortunately, the statements made by Mr Eric Nxumalo were never challenged by the Tsonga chiefs in the said interview; either, they fear him or they have no historical argument to refute the claims. The Amashangaan have not yet woken up to the reality that Gaza is GONE, what is left of Gaza is in history books.

As the 200 years commemoration of Soshangani and his descendant’s reign of terror and scheming on Vatsonga, we need to remember that the primary objective amaNdwandwe (Machangani) was to destabilize Vutsonga for their own benefit.

‘Gaza was a colonial entity too, just like the Portuguese’ – N’wanati and Bila leaders in Mozambique who have begun the process to change the name of Gaza province.

Vutsonga i Vukosi.

Image source: globalblackhistory.com

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