- Soshangani Nxumayo spoke isiLala, which is a Nguni dialect.
So how did Soshangani end up with a language named after him?
- Well, “Xichangani” is not a language or a dialect of any language group, “Xichangani” is the mislabeling of certain Xitsonga dialects.
Eric Nxumalo, who is a descendent of Soshangani and present leader of the Amashangaan Royal Authority, denied the existence of a language called Xichangani on Munghana Lonene FM in 2015. In 1972, the Amashangaan Tribal Authority informed the then government that their preferred language is isizulu, and made no mention of a language called Shangaan (Xichangani).
- Soshangani ruled a Nguni entity, and Xitsonga was regarded as a slave language and was banned during his reign.
Contrary to popular belief, Soshangani hated the language that is named after him; only isiLala was permitted in Gaza, however, over time Xitsonga replaced isiLala. Presently, Soshangani’s descendants and subjects, who are part of the Vatsonga ethnic group, speak various Xitsonga dialects.
- In Bushbuckridge, a place believed to be the home of Machangani na Xichangani, they speak mainly Xihlanganu and other Xitsonga dialects.
Bushbuckridge and the whole Lower Sabie area, is originally Khosa and Munisi land. The Shangaan ran there when Gaza fell, and bought Khosa & Munisi land from a white man named Erasmus with a diamond.
- Xitsonga is over a thousand years old; the Ndwandwe group (Machangani) has been part of Vutsonga for less than 200 years.
This is why it is incorrect and misinformed to label Xitsonga language, Xitsonga music and Xitsonga traditional attire as “Xigaza / Xichangani”. Gaza is Soshangani’s grandfather, his original Nguni name is Gasa; he did not flee KwaNongoma with Soshangani to Vutsonga. Gasa has never played a Xitsonga musical instrument or wore a Xitsonga traditional item, Gasa was Nguni-Ndwandwe to the core.
- “Xigaza / Magaza” was popularized and normalized in the 1960s by the Gazankulu homeland of the apartheid regime. In Zimbabwe, majority of Vatsonga speak Cihlengwe (Xihlengwe), however, due to ignorance and political games, Vatsonga of Zimbabwe officially registered a Xitsonga language as “Shangani”,
The National Party had initially decided to disband Vatsonga and split them amongst Basotho ba Leboa, AmaSwati ka Ngwane and Vhavenda. After the decision was reversed, Gazankulu Homeland launched a propaganda campaign designed to promote unity and pride within our marginalized group. A lot of corrupt and misguided slogans and terms were created, such as “Xigaza / Mugaza / Magaza”. However, in Mozambique, the term Mugaza is used as an insult to people who speak other Tsonga variants by Xirhonga speakers. This excludes the Gitonga speakers, who are derogatorily referred to as “Manyembani”. To be referred to as Mugaza, alludes that one is, or has accepted to be called Shangaan. The term Mugaza is also used to refer to someone who is backward, uncivilized and less smart.
Soshangani did not speak or create any Xitsonga dialect; Xichangani is not a language, no one speak Xichangani eka leyi misava.
Contrary to popular belief, the Swiss Missionaries did not create Xitsonga. Xitsonga is an ancient language group with over 10 dialects. Also, Xitsonga is not a standardized language for academic purposes; standardized Xitsonga is mainly made up of Xidzonga, a southern Xitsonga dialect.
There is no Xitsonga dialect named after a man or a woman.
Mutsonga a hi wa rimhondzo.
Also Read (Click):
- Introduction to 10 Tsonga dialects in 500 words
- Xivungu xa Xigaza: The Shangaanisation of Xitsonga Music
- Difference between Tsonga & Shangaan in 500 words