As speakers of Xitsonga, we can all agree ku we are currently experiencing an identity crisis. We don’t agree on our collective name, but we acknowledge that we are one and speak one language.
Kambe, xana hi Vatsonga kumbe Machangani or both?
Each year, Munghana Lonene FM attempts to answer this burning question with the help of Tsonga Historians and Royals, but we never come to a conclusion on who are we; which is weird, hi rixaka ra njhani ro ka ri nga titivi?
Now, why does Munghana Lonene FM insist on labeling us as “Vatsonga-Machangani” on a regular basis? Is it ignorance, arrogance, propaganda, playing it safe or a collective?
In order to answer this, you have to understand the following;
- Referring to all Xitsonga speakers as Vatsonga is politically and historically correct.
- Xitsonga is a language group of over 10 major dialects.
- Vatsonga are an ethnic group linked by a common language and culture, thus the saying, Mutsonga a hi wa rimhondzo (Tsonga is not a lineage).
- Machangani are a Xitsonga speaking group of Ndwandwe origin.
- Xichangani is not a language according to linguistics and Hosi Eric Nxumalo, leader of the Amashangaan Royal Authority.
- Machangani in the Tsonga ethnic group are an independent group, and Machangani in the Swazi Kingdom are subjects of the Kingdom.
- Vatsonga is inclusive of Machangani and 13 other major groupings.
- Vatsonga-Machangani is a double barrel tag created and popularized during the era of Gazankulu Homeland.
- Machangani once requested a homeland separate from Vatsonga.
- Vatsonga-Machangani double barrel is a consolidation of two groups that share a colonial history and speak one language.
Munghana Lonene’s station license from ICASA clearly stipulates that the principal language of MLFM is XITSONGA. Munghana Lonene FM exists to cater for Xitsonga speaking people, which are;
- Valoyi (Varozwi)
- Vatembe (Varhonga)
The correct name of our language according to the constitution of the Republic South Africa is XITSONGA. On Air and online, Munghana Lonene FM and some of its employees refer to us as HALF-ETHNIC-GROUP-HALF-TRIBE, and at times refer to Xitsonga as Xichangani.
If we are said to be one nation, why are Machangani getting a special mention on our collective name? Did the government get the name of our language group wrong? Why emphasize on one group when they are already part of the collective? Would we be comfortable as a collective if tomorrow we were referred to as Vatsonga-Van’wanati? Would Machangani agree to being labeled as Valoyi (Varozwi)? If the other Tsonga groups are expected to celebrate, embrace and protect “Vuchangani”, clearly the same rules should apply, right?
The word Tsonga is inclusive of everyone, hambi u pfa eVumbai, eVukaranga, kumbe KwaNongoma, u nga va Mutsonga, hikuva Mutsonga a hi wa rimhondzo. MLFM is playing a dangerous game by “unconsciously” fueling our identity crisis and marrying an inclusive collective to one group. There is no crime or discrimination in using Tsonga without special mention of Shangaan. However, it is very disrespectful that several times over the years Machangani have publicly refused to be categorized as Vatsonga without a shame or any backlash.
N’we Vatsonga, there will be no nation building until we are clear on who we are…
- Mhe ndzi Cheleni, nyimba ya Hosi Zarhi, ndzi Muhlengwe.