BaKalanga Mukani Sensitisation Conference
By Divine Dube
A baKalanga sensitisation mini conference was held in Bulawayo on the 1st February 2014. It was attended by sixteen people, mainly youth of Kalanga origin. The major aim of the conference was to alert baKalanga youth on their history, cultural heritage and their linguistic and cultural rights which are now enshrined in the new constitution. This was also meant help them explore all possible avenues that will help restore the lost glory of their language and culture.
Ndzimu-Unami Emmanuel Moyo, who is the first writer of an exclusive book about baKalanga people, The Rebirth of buKalanga, published in 2012, gave a vivid description of who baKalanga are. He gave a detailed scholarly report on the migration of BaKalanga from Mapungubwe ruins in South Africa where baKalanga are first believed to have settled until they settled in present day Zimbabwe.
He challenged the mainstream historical documents used in the Zimbabwean schools’ curricula saying they distorted history. He asserted that the great Monomotapa state was a Kalanga state which is misconstrued as a Shona state whereas the Shona came to Zimbabwe after BaKalanga.
Delegates asked Moyo to unpack who baKalanga are in terms of surnames and baKalanga sub-groups which he responded by referring them to his book The Rebirth of buKalanga due to lack of time.
It was agreed by the entire delegates that there is need to sensitise the general populace about who baKalanga are after noting that many baKalanga in Zimbabwe do not know that they are baKalanga.
Thomas Sithole, who works with Plumtree Development Trust as a human rights activist and development practitioner concisely, unpacked the Bill of Rights enshrined in the new constitution. He urged baKalanga to capitalise on the constitution and other International conventions such as the United Nation Charter on Languages to advocate for the recognition of baKalanga.
Tshidzanani Malaba, who is KLCDA secretary, described the role of the Kalanga Association in promoting Kalanga Language through inclusion in the education curriculum and the organisation’s efforts to write and publish books. He described the challenges which the organisation has encountered since its formation. All baKalanga were encouraged to volunteer their time and resources towards the promotion and preservation of buKalanga and tjiKalanga.
BaKalanga were encouraged to write plays and articles in Kalanga. The delegates also agreed to engage rural district councils to use tjiKalanga in their day to day administration so that the language is promoted at grassroots levels.
Elders who are members of the association were exhorted to encourage their children to join the association so that they help promote tjiKalanga. Buhegwedu Dube, who gave closing remarks, encouraged youths to push for the wholesome recognition of Kalanga and hailed young people who constituted the majority of the delegates at the conference. He encouraged use of tjiKalanga in private and public discourse arguing that if the language is not used we might slowly lose it to extinction.
The Kalanga Origins of the Thembu and Nelson Mandela Revealed
by Ndzimu-unami Emmanuel Moyo (repr. from Bulawayo24)
Alan Dershowitz notes his feelings about his Jewish identity when he was a Yale law student: “When I went home for the Jewish holidays, I told my parents about the brilliant teachers at Yale: Goldstein, Pollack, Bickel, Skolnick, Schwartz. Then I told them about the most brilliant of my teachers: Calabresi. Without missing a beat, my mother asked, ‘Is he an Italian Jew?’Angrily I said, ‘Don’t be so parochial. He’s an Italian Catholic. Not all smart people have to have Jewish blood.’ Several months later, I learned that Guido Calabresi was in fact descended from Italian Jews.” [DERSHOWTIZ, p. 50, quoted in When Victims Rule: A Critique of Jewish Pre-eminence in America]
Another Jew, Joshua Halberstam writes that “Pointing to the high proportion of Jewish Nobel Laureates â€¦ is a custom practiced around Jewish tables everywhere”, while in the 1970s a Jew from Odessa told the American Jewish Congress that “it was kind of a hobby [among Jews] to collect the names of famous Jews who hide their identity [in the Soviet Union].” [ROTHCHILD, 1985, p. 38, in When Victims Rule.]
The opinions expressed above capture what this article seeks to accomplish. It shows that like Jewry all over the world, the Kalanga stand out as a distinct and exceptional people group among the Bantu, exceptional for their disproportionate achievements compared to other people groups in Sub-Saharan Africa.
These achievements are to be seen not only in history which saw the Kalanga establish the greatest civilization ever established Africa south of the Sahara – the Zimbabwe Civilization – epitomized by three of the four man-made Unesco World Heritage sites in Southern Africa (Maphungubgwe, Great Zimbabwe and Khami); become the first people in Sub-Saharan Africa to create an Iron Age Culture as early as 100AD, mining, smelting and trading in iron, copper and gold; becoming the first farmers to domesticate animals and practice mixed farming; having the most advanced idea of the Supreme Being – the Mwali Religion – a variant of Yahwe’ism (see Summers 1971, Daneel 1970 and Gayre 1972), etc., the achievements are to be seen even in the 20th and 21st centuries.
We find the Kalanga, despite their smaller numbers compared to other groups, becoming the first to organize Africans and take leadership in Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa to fight and overthrow white racist rule. We can count here the likes of Dr Joshua Nkomo who founded the ANC which would become the NDP and later ZAPU; Dr John Langalibalele Dube who became the first president of the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa, and Dr Knight Maripe who earned his Doctorate in Industrial Relations in Belgium in the 1950s and went on to found the first nationalist party in Botswana, the Bechuanaland People’s Party in the 1960s. Indeed, the greatest challenge to the colonialists in the 19th and 20th centuries in Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa where the Kalanga and the AbaThembu, a Kalanga people.
These same achievements are to be found in industry where today the two largest telecommunications companies in Africa – MTN and Vodacom – are led by Kalanga CEOs – Sifiso Raymond Dabengwa Ndlovu and Peter Moyo; some of the finest Deans and University leaders from Dr Mthuli Ncube at Wits Business School to Tawana Khupe at the Wits Faculty of Media to Dr Luke Bhala at Lupane State, Professor Lindela Ndlovu at NUST, and nearly all the top faculty at the University of Botswana. The list is endless.
Now, one of these stories that has not been told concerns perhaps the greatest leader that Africa (and perhaps the whole world) has ever produced, viz, Tata Nelson Rholihlahla Mandela. Whilst known to many as a Xhosa, or just as a Thembu, research reveals that his clan, the AbaThembu, are originally a people of Kalanga stock, and only became Xhosa by assimilation.
“Crazy, stupid, foolish, hahaha, all people to you are Kalanga, even Barack Obama is Kalanga then if that’s the case, actually, even Jesus was Kalanga, if not God himself!” These are the initial responses that I anticipate at this stage, but dear reader, if you are one who is not afraid of facing evidence and dealing with it, please read on. Thank you.
Who are the AbaThembu, and Where Did they Come From?
To be honest, since I started researching and writing Kalanga history, I suspected that there must be there some kind of relationship between the Kalanga Tembe/Mthembu and the now Xhosa AbaThembu. But I was a bit afraid to even come close to making such a statement for fear of damaging my credibility as a writer. But that all changed during the funeral of the great Nelson Mandela. It was changed by the statement that was made by the Thembu King, Ikumkani Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo, that the AbaThembu are not originally Xhosa, but they are an assimilated people. To my amazement, when I turned to Tata Mandela’s own autobiography, The Long Walk to Freedom, I found that he had already made that statement, and I quote:
The Thembu tribe reaches back for twenty generations to King Zwide. According to tradition, the Thembu people lived in the foothills of the Drakensberg Mountains and migrated toward the coast in the sixteenth century, where they were incorporated into the Xhosa nation â€¦ The Nguni can be divided into a northern group – the Zulu and the Swazi people – and a southern group, which is made up of amaBaca, amaBomyana, amaGcaleka, amaMfengu, amaMpodomis, amaMpondo, abeSotho, and abeThembu, and together they comprise the Xhosa nation (Mandela 1994: 1).
By Mandela’s own account and that of Ikumkani Dalindyebo, the Thembu were incorporated or assimilated into the Xhosa nation, otherwise, they were a distinct people from the Xhosa, and indeed from the Nguni. But who were they, and where did they come from?
I looked around various sources to answer this question, and a number of internet sources that I found pointed to two locations of Thembu origin – Central Africa and modern KwaZulu-Natal. The claim of origins in Central Africa might not tell us much since all the land from north of the Limpopo to the Central African Republic is by some considered Central Africa. It is the KwaZulu-Natal origin that becomes of serious interest, and of course, as we shall see later, the Thembu in KwaZulu-Natal claim origins in what was once the Kingdom of Bukalanga, now Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique and North Limpopo Province.
In his 1933 seminal work on Thembu history, Who are the Abathembu, and where do they come from?, E. G. Sihele states that the AbaThembu were one of the first black nations to settle in what is now KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape. He states that their genealogy, which is also the official genealogy of Nelson Mandela (available online as a pdf document titled “Mandela Family Tree”) can be traced to Zwide, great-great-great-grandfather of Chief Thembu, from whom the AbaThembu take their name. (The Reverend J. H. Soga’s Thembu genealogy also starts with Thembu.)
Sihele then writes: “It is clear therefore that we (AbaThembu) broke off from the rest of the Black people with Zwide who left the people in Central Africa, where they still are even today. Zwide’s progeny split and divided as it moved southwards along the seaboard, with their herds of cattle, in search of livelihood AbaThembu broke off from Zwide’s descendants when they moved ahead.”
Whilst no one, as Sihele argues, has been able to delve into and bring out more information on the person of Zwide, this particular individual remains of particular interest to any historian interested in Thembu history. So far as we can establish, the term or name “Zwide” carries no meaning whatsoever in any of the Nguni languages, instead it carries meaning in TjiKalanga. (It is rare for Bantu names to be just names without carrying some particular meaning in that language. Also note: the Zwide mentioned here is nothing to do with the 19th century Zwide KaLanga of the Ndwandwe.)
Could it be then that the “Central Africa” referred to is the former Kingdom of Bukalanga, where the name “Zwide” carries meaning, meaning “Love Yourself”? Perhaps yes, perhaps not.
Of AbaThembu and Tembe/Mthembu Settlements in KwaZulu-Natal
I indicated at the beginning of this article that I have always wondered if it was mere coincidence that there are ‘Xhosa’ people called AbaThembu (singular – umThembu) and the Mthembu people, both settled and/or once settled in what is now KwaZulu-Natal, and the two be just unrelated peoples. I began to believe that there is a relationship between the two once I got information that the AbaThembu, before moving to their present homeland in the northeastern Eastern Cape Province around the Mthatha, were originally settled in the old Natal State.
At look at an old map of the Union of South Africa (for example, a 1905 map is available online under the title “Kapstaaten_1905) shows that the Old Natal spread from just north of Kokstadt in the modern Eastern Cape into KwaZulu-Natal. In this Natal, to the surprise of many, were first settled people of Kalanga stock, the AmaLala, barring the Khoisan (please see Alfred T. Bryant, Synopsis of Zulu Grammar and a Concise History of the Zulu People from the Most Ancient Times, 1905; Clement M. Doke, The Bantu Speaking Tribes of South Africa, 1937, and Theodore Bent, The Ruined Cities of Mashonaland, 1892) .
These people were pushed further south away from the shadow of the Drakensburg Mountains first by the wars of the AbaMbo as they arrived in the region around 1600, and later by the raids of Tshaka in the 19th century. But where had they come from? It is here that we find a convergence of the AbaThembu bakaDalindyebo in the Eastern Cape and the Kalanga AbaThembu bakaMabhudu Tembe/Mthembu in KZN.
As already indicated, the AbaThembu take their name from the patriarch Thembu, whereas on the other hand, the Mthembu Clan in KwaZulu-Natal – who we definitely know to have Kalanga origins – also takes its name from a patriarch of the same name – Thembu, otherwise known as Tembe (see Roelie J. Kloppers, page 27, The History and Representation of the Mabudu-Tembe, a Master of Arts Dissertation presented to the University of Stellenbosch Faculty of Humanities in 2003; and Henry A. Junod, 1927, The Life of a South African Tribe, Volumes I and II.)
This writer is of the opinion that this cannot be mere coincidence, that two people groups can carry the same name, claim ancestral origins from a patriarch of the same name, be settled or have settled in the same geographical region, and yet be unrelated. I am convinced the Eastern Cape AbaThembu and the KwaZulu-Natal Mthembu Clan are one and the same peoples, although more research would be needed in this area.
The Origins of the Patriarch Thembu/Tembe and his People
The claim that the AbaThembu, and hence the great Nelson Mandela (an AbaThembu Prince) are originally of Kalanga stock is based on the evidence of the Kalanga origins of the Thembu patriarch, Tembe/Thembu. Kloppers indicates in page 84 of his dissertation that Mthembu or Thembu is the ‘Nguni’ized’ version of Tembe. In a document available on the University of Pretoria website we are told that “The Tembe are named after Chief Mthembu, who arrived from Zimbabwe [Bukalanga] around 1554 and settled in the region around Maputo Bay” (www.upetd.up.ac.za/../02chapter2). “Historically they settled in the region that spans from Maputo Bay in Mozambique in the north of the Mkuze River in the south, and the Pongola River in the west in the middle of the 16th century (Kloppers 2001 – The History and Representation of the History of the Mabudu-Tembe).
Yes, they came from what is now Zimbabwe, the former Kingdom of Bukalanga, but that is not enough to say that they are a people of Kalanga stock. More evidence is needed to that end. This we find in the 1927 work of the Swedish missionary the Reverend Henry A. Junod. Of the Tembe/Thembu he wrote:
Almost every clan [in the African south east coast] pretends to have come from afar, and strange to say, they came from all points of the compass. Two of their clans, without doubt, came from the north, the Ba-ka-Baloyi and the Tembe. The Ba-ka-Baloyi, they say, came down the valley of the Limpopo in very remote times â€¦ According to some of the Native historians, the Ba-Loyi came from the Ba-Nyai country along with the Ba-Nwanati (a Hlengwe group), who also belonged to the Nyai or Kalanga race [the BaLoyi are the same as BaLozwi and BaNyai, being a Kalanga group].
As regards the Tembe clan, it is said to have come down as far as Delagoa Bay from the Kalanga country by the Nkomati River on a floating island of payrus, and to have crossed the Tembe river and settled to the south of the Bay â€¦ The Tembe people, when they greet each other, sometimes use the salutation Nkalanga, i.e. man of the north or of the Kalanga country, and there is little doubt that, notwithstanding the legendary traits of this tradition, the fact itself of the northern origin of these clans is true (Junod 1927, 21-23).
In the introduction to the first volume, Junod tells us that his informants were all over the age of eighty years at the turn of the 20th century, which means that they would have been born about the turn of the 19th century, somewhat closer to the events that they were recounting in their discussions with the missionary.
Junod’s report on the Kalanga origins of the Tembe is also attested to by W.S. Felgate who, in The Tembe Thonga of Natal and Mozambique: An Ecological Approach, reports that the Tembe claim to have migrated from Kalanga country (1982: 11).
In an abridged version of a document published in submission to the Nhlapho Commission opposing the claim by Eric Nxumalo that he should be installed as King of the Tsonga (and Shangaan people) in 2007, Mandla Mathebula, Robert Nkuna, Hlengani Mabasa, and Mukhacani Maluleke wrote that over the centuries, the Tsonga have assimilated other cultural groups who came to live with them in South East Africa, and among those were:
Tembe-Kalanga, who were in the Delagoa Bay region by 1554. The Baloyi-Rozvi (Lozwi), were already in the N’walungu region during the time of the Dutch occupation of the Delagoa Bay (1721-31). Some Hlengwe oral traditions claimed that the Hlengwe were actually the ones who converted the Valoyi from Rozvi (Lozwi) into Tsonga in Zimbabwe and Mozambique. This probably happened after the death of the powerful king of Rozvi, Changameri Dombo [i.e., Mambo Dombolakona-Tjing’wango Dlembewu Moyo] in 1696 (Mathebula, et al 2007, Online).
The Portuguese traveler and chronicler, Perestrelo, who had made a survey of all the land and peoples from the Transkei to the Delagoa Bay (located just to the north of the St. Lucia Bay and the Mkhuze River which is just to the south of Maputo and the Lebombo Mountains), wrote in 1576 that he had encountered the Tembe in 1554, apparently long settled on the south east coast, or modern KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape and Swaziland (see Dr. Sidney Welch, 1948, South Africa Under John III, 1521-1557.)
There is no doubt that this article will open a hornet’s nest, perhaps result in a lot of debate on the part of those with scholarly minds, and also arouse tremendous laughter and condemnation from those of limited intellect who would not take the time to judge the evidence on its own merits or lack thereof.
But I believe that I have attempted to show that indeed, if the patriarch Thembu from whom AbaThembu take their name is the same patriarch of the Kalanga Tembe/Thembu, then the AbaThembu are originally a people of Kalanga stock, and as explained by Ikumkani Dalindyebo and Nelson Mandela himself, became Xhosa by assimilation. Zwide would probably have been an older patriarch whose remains lie somewhere north of the Limpopo, for as Sihele put it, “in search of livelihood AbaThembu broke off from Zwide’s descendants when they moved ahead.” Apparently, no one knows where that “breaking off” would have happened.
Now, if indeed the AbaThembu of Nelson Mandela (presently led by Ikumkani Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo) and the Tembe/Mthembu (presently led by Inkosi Mabhudu Tembe/Mthembu in KZN) are one and the same people, we can safely conclude that Nelson Mandela and the AbaThembu are people of Kalanga stock. And like those Jews around their tables counting the number of Jewish Nobel Laureates and the Jews in Russia making a hobby of counting Jewish high achievers, we of Kalanga stock may find ourselves having an extra political hero – Nelson Mandela – in addition to the likes of Dr Joshua Nkomo, Jason Ziyaphapha Moyo, Dr Knight Maripe, Festus Mogae, Daniel Kwele, George T. Silundika, Moses Mzila-Ndlovu, etc.
Ndaboka imi n’Kalanga we Bulilima-Mangwe. Ishwani. Goledzwa. Catch me on [email protected]
Karanga, Kalanga originally from the same area?
t is easy to note the linguistic similarities between Kalanga and Karanga languages. Ordinarily, where the Karanga use the letter “r” in a word, the Kalanga use “l”. This linguistic relationship, some historians argue, suggests that the Karanga and Kalanga peoples are related, and at some point in history were one group of people that spoke the same language and possibly lived in the same area. While their languages sound similar, spatially however, the people live at least 200km apart – the Kalanga inhabit parts of Kezi and Plumtree while the Karanga are dominant in Masvingo, and the southern to central parts of Midlands.
It is not exactly known at what point they went so much apart, but some argue that it must be in the early 1830s when a then militarily powerful Ndebele people chose to settle on the Zimbabwe plateau, sending the weaker now Karanga and Kalanga fleeing to the east and west respectively. After they were splintered, their common language assumed slight differences over time. There is debate, however, why there has been the specific lexical shift of “r” and “l”.
Prominent historian, Mr Pathisa Nyathi argues that indeed there is a historical relationship between the two peoples dating back centuries ago. Then, he said, the land stretching from the Kalahari Desert in Botswana to Mozambique, was occupied by a people with a common ancestry and language – Kalanga.
“In Zambia, there are the Lozi (Rozvi in Shona); we have the Nambya in western Zimbabwe, and the Kalanga who had a number of dialects like the Vahumbe, Batalaunda, and VaJahunda in the Gwanda area. The Karanga and various other groups that are now known as the Shona are part of that group.”
It was a vast group of people; he said, whose lifestyle was characterised by the building of stone structures, first at Mapungubwe near the confluence of the Shashe and Limpopo rivers to the south in present day South Africa. These people were migrating from South Africa northward, through Botswana, he said. The Mapungubwe Kingdom, Mr Nyathi said, built the first organised state in southern Africa around AD 1000 before they moved northward again to and over time built the Great Zimbabwe Monument, a more impressive metropolis than Mapungubwe.
Between AD1200 and 1500, the Kalanga-speaking people reigned at Great Zimbabwe in Masvingo until it collapsed, resulting in another trek to the west to establish Khami, another stone-walled city. There the Torwa State reigned. Mr Nyathi argues that the word “torwa” indicates a possible reason why the people moved westward. Environmental degradation could be one of them, but a more compelling factor could have been a succession struggle that degenerated into a bloody civil war.
“The Kalanga and Karanga both say ‘togwa’ meaning we are fighting or simply fighting,” he said.
“The Kalanga and Karanga descended from the same stock. They are one people. The initial language was Kalanga but because the Kalanga haven’t written their history, we have lost a lot of information.”
Professor Thomas Huffman, chairman of the Wits School of Archeology, Geography and Environmental Studies argues that Kalanga was the language of the Mapungubwe Kingdom. The Karanga dialect, he said, could have emerged from Kalanga as a result of influence from Zezuru.
He said the Karanga and Kalanga are dialect clusters within the larger Shona language family. He said Kalanga at one time covered a much larger area before Ndebele incursions in the 1930s scattered the people around.
“You might be interested to know,” said Prof Huffman from South Africa, “that a Kalanga dynasty was probably the leaders at Mapungubwe on the Limpopo River in the 13th century, and a Karanga dynasty probably led the people at Great Zimbabwe.
The Kalanga dynasty at Khami (near Bulawayo) appears to have out-competed Great Zimbabwe at about AD 1450 and the leaders at Great Zimbabwe appear to have gone north to become the famous Mwene Mutapa dynasty.”
Prof Huffman’s argument that Karanga emerged from Kalanga is a question of considerable contestation, as some historians say Kalanga is, in fact a derivative of Karanga. Kalanga emerged as a result of corruption of Karanga by the invading Ndebele people, in whose language the letter “l” is common.
Karanga and Kalanga words that sound basically the same include body parts -“mpimbila” in Kalanga, (mupambare in Karanga and other Shona dialects, shin in English), “chibvi” (bvi in Karanga, knee in English), “ntumbu” (dumbu in Karanga and other Shona dialects). In addition to similarities language, there are many common totems between the people such as Hungwe, Moyo, Chuma, Zhou and so on. Both peoples also worshipped the same deity, Mwari/ Mwali.
Mr Saul Gwakuba Ndlovu, a retired journalist once worked in the 1960s as a researcher in social anthropology among the Kalanga. He argues that Karanga and Kalanga peoples are historically one group. He said Kalanga was spoken along Macloutsi River in Botswana to Gwilo (now Gweru). To the east of Gwilo, Karanga was the language.
The name Zimbabwe, he said, is a corruption of the Karanga/Kalanga term “dzimbabwe” (houses of stone). When white settlers were settling in the territory that is now Zimbabwe, they were assisted by Zulu, Sotho or Xhosa whose languages, Mr Ndlovu said, do not have a strong letter “d”.
He said when he visits his uncle in Zaka, Masvingo, he speaks in Kalanga and he speaks in original Karanga with a heavy Rozvi accent.
“The situation was disrupted in the 1820s as a result of Swazi raiders who did not come to defeat the people of that area and take over their territory but to capture foodstuffs, especially livestock,” he said.
In one such Swazi raid around 1831 and 1832, a large group of BaKalanga fled the Matopo area under Ntinima (Mutinhima in Karanga, a MuRozvi and son of King Nechasike whose original name was Chilisamhulu in Kalanga or Chirisamhuru in Karanga) and settled in the Buhera area. These people frequently came back to Matopo at Njelele for religious purposes. It was easy for them to move because there were no boundaries at that time.
“When the Ndebele came,” said Mr Ndlovu, “the Karanga were being raided by the Ndebele army that was controlled by Kalanga boys. So the Karanga were saying, ‘oh they are already Ndebele’ referring to the Kalanga soldiers. You must understand that the Ndebele army was predominantly BaKalanga raiding their cousins in Karangaland.”
Reprinted from The Chronicle.
Who are the Kalanga, or Bakalanga, BaNambya and Vhavenda?
by Ndzimu-unami Emmanuel Moyo (repr. from ZimEye)
One day not many years ago whilst passing by the Plumtree District Hospital, I overheard two men arguing about the people bearing the surname ‘Moyo’. The other gentlemen, apparently a Moyo himself, was fiercely arguing that he is a Ndebele, whilst the other one, who apparently believed himself to be the ‘real Ndebele’, argued that the other gentlemen is a Shona, declaring, “vele bonke oMoyo ngamaShona.”
The line taken by this gentleman is common, especially if one is a follower of debates of this nature on Facebook, Online Newspapers and Chatrooms. I have joked sometimes and said that if the Moyo people are really Shona, then ‘Matebeleland’ has to be changed to ‘Mashonaland’ since people bearing the royal surname Moyo constitute perhaps at least 50% of Matebeleland (randomly gather any 10 people in Matebeleland chances are 5 are Moyos).
“The Kalanga are a hybrid of the Ndebele and Karanga”
The above was used just as an illustration of the confusion that exists in Matebeleland in particular and Zimbabwe in general as to the identity of the people known as the Kalanga, or Bakalanga, BaNambya and Vhavenda. This confusion is compounded by the official Zimbabwean history narrative which actively seeks to promote the idea that the Kalanga are a hybrid of the Karanga and Ndebele who only came into being in the 18th century as a result of Ndebele-Karanga intermarriages. It further claims that the “L” in TjiKalanga was dropped from the “R” in ChiKaranga as a result of Ndebele influence.
Of course this narrative falls on itself in three ways. First, it ignores the fact that when Mzilikazi and his Ndebele arrived in what is now ‘Matebeleland’, the Kalanga were already in occupation of that
region. Secondly, it does not explain how the Kalanga are found in Botswana and the Limpopo Province (Brakpan River Saltpan) where the Ndebele never settled, and they have been in those regions for many centuries before the 18th. Thirdly, the narrative ignores the fact that TjiKalanga properly spoken contains no Ndebele words at all. It surely could not only have borrowed the “L” only from IsiNdebele and nothing else.
Why we should answer the question: Who are the Kalanga?
This question becomes more urgent to ask now that the Constitution of Zimbabwe recognizes the Kalanga as a distinct people group separate from the Ndebele and Shona. It also becomes important to ask and answer because, with the new Constitution recognizing the Kalanga as a distinct group, there will be a need to teach their history in addition to the language.
One of the tragedies of the Kalanga is that their history has been parceled out between the Shona and Ndebele. The precolonial history
has been ‘given’ to the Shona (for example, it is falsely claimed that the Shona built Maphungubgwe, Great Zimbabwe, Khami, etc; that the
Shona were the Monomotapa, Togwa and Lozwi Kingdom peoples, etc). Post-colonialism, all Kalanga nationalist leaders – Dr Joshua Nkomo,
JZ Moyo, TG Silundika, John Landa Nkomo, Alfred Nikita Mangena, etc are presented as Ndebele.
The sum of it is that the Kalanga are practically left with no history of their own at all, which obviously negatively affects the self-esteem and pride of a Kalanga child who is made to grow up believing that his or her own people have never achieved anything worthwhile in this world.
So, who are the Kalanga?
It will no doubt take many articles, or a whole book (as in my book, The Rebirth of Bukalanga), to answer this question. But we can briefly
answer this question in this short article to at least give the reader an idea of who the Kalanga are as a People.
The Kalanga originate in the North East Africa region, specifically the Sudan-Egypt-Ethiopia region. Like many Bantu groups, they trekked from the North down South, finally settling in the region now called Southern Africa. The difference with other groups is that the Kalanga settled Africa south of the Zambezi over two millennia ago. By 100 AD, they had already settled in the lands now called Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa and Botswana, with most groups arriving between 500 and 1700 years later (the Sotho-Tswana about 500AD, the Nguni about 1600 and the ‘Shona’ about 1700).
By the earliest centuries of the Christian era (500AD) the Kalanga had established what archeologists have called the Leopard’s Kopje Culture. It was an Iron Age sequence culture which was the first in Sub-Saharan Africa to practice mixed farming; mine, smelt and trade in gold, copper and iron. By 1000 AD, the Kalanga had become a sophisticated people, establishing the first city-state in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Maphungubgwe City, on the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashe Rivers.
Here they traded in gold, and indeed so great was this industry at Maphungubgwe that archeologists have found several artifacts made from that precious mineral there. Of course, the most famous is the Golden Rhino, which now forms the Order of Maphungubgwe, South Africa’s highest national honor.
From Maphungubgwe the Kalanga expanded their state, moving to and constructing Great Zimbabwe, and later Khami. In all these areas they carried on their industries and trade. They traded with the Arabians, the Chinese, the Ethiopians, the Portuguese and Phoenicians. It has been suggested by one writer – Gayre of Gayre – that much of the gold
that found its way into the Solomonic Temple and Palace mentioned in the Bible originated among the Kalanga in what later became Zimbabwe.
The Zimbabwe Civilization – epitomized by Maphungubgwe, Great Zimbabwe, and Khami – three of the four man-made UNESCO World Heritage sites in Southern Africa, can be classified as the greatest civilization ever established Africa south of the Sahara. Indeed, barring its lack of a writing culture, it can be classed in the same level with the other great civilizations of the world, from the
Akkadian to the Sumerian to the Egyptian to the Axumite to the Graeco-Roman Civilizations.
The Monomotapa, Togwa and Lozwi Kingdoms
On the political side, the Kalanga established the greatest kingdoms ever established Africa south of the Sahara, both in terms of power, wealth and expanse. They established the Monomotapa Kingdom which swept from the Zambezi to the Makhado Mountains (Luis Trichardt) north to south, and from the Tendankulu (now Pungwe River) in the middle of Mozambique to the Makadikadi Salt Pans on the boundary of the Kalahari Desert, east west.
The Monomotapa Kingdom, which existed for about 500 years (1000-1500) as the greatest polity in Southern Africa, later disintegrated as a result of external attacks and internal decay. It would be succeeded by the Togwa Kingdom which was headquartered at Khami, 22km west of Bulawayo. The Togwa Kingdom, which had been established by Madabhale Shoko/Ncube, later Tjibundule, existed for about 200 years, after which its ruling dynasty, the Tjibundule Dynasty, was overthrown by Mambo Dombolakona-Tjing’wango Dlembewu Moyo, otherwise known as
(Tjangamire, a title which originated with the Monomotapa Dynasty when the Arabs still traded in the land, is a combination of two words, the name ‘Tjanga’, and the title Amir/Emir, meaning ‘The Justice.’ The title emir is still in usage in Arab lands, which is why some of them are called Emirates. Tjangamire is not a Shona word as commonly
believed. It is a Kalanga-Arabic word.)
The Lozwi Kingdom of course was to be overthrown after a nearly 30-year onslaught by a succession of five impis – four Nguni and three non-Nguni, these being: the Swati of Mtshetshenyana and Nyamazana, the Ngoni of Zwangendaba, the Gaza-Nguni of Soshangane, the Makololo of Sebituane, the Tswana of Kgari and the Portuguese. This Kingdom finally fell about 1830 with the arrival of the Ndebele of Mzilikazi.
The earliest remembered Kalanga kings are Hee Hamuyendazwa Nkalange Hhowu (Ndlovu) and Malambodzibgwa Nkalange Hhowu (it is from these kings that we take our name – Ba-Nkalange, that is, those of Nkalange (some Ndlovu-surnamed Bakalanga still swear by BaNkalange today. We are told that Nkalanga/Nkalange means “People of the North”).
And of course some of the greatest Kalanga kings to ever live were the likes of Mambo Nhu-unotapa (Monomotapa) Mokomba Hhowu, Mambo Dombolakona-Tjing’wango Dlembewu Moyo, Mambo Madabhale Tjibundule Shoko/Ncube.
The Kalanga Identified by their Tribes and Surnames
Today the Kalanga are divided into 12 major tribes comprising the so-called Bakalanga “proper” (properly BaLozwi), BaLobedu, BaNambya, Vhavenda, BaTalawunda, BaLilima, BaPfumbi, BaLemba, BaLembethu, BaTswapong, BaTwamambo, BaTembe (Mthembu), Babirwa and BaShangwe. They are scattered across Southern Africa from KwaZulu-Natal all the way to
Tanzania, speaking almost all the languages to be in all the countries in between.
Being Kalanga therefore does not mean TjiKalanga-speaking, but it is an ethno-racial identity. Once born a Kalanga always a Kalanga, as long as one carries ancestral Kalanga blood. In other words, as long as one has one or both parents who is or was Kalanga, they are Kalanga too. But how do they get to know if they are ancestrally Kalanga? The answer is to be found in their surname.
The Kalanga, wherever they are in the world, are identifiable primarily by their animal and body parts name surnames like Moyo (variants Pelo, Mbilu, Nhliziyo, Mthunzi, Nkiwane), Ndlovu (Ndou, Tlou, Zhowu, Hhowu), Sibanda (Shumba, Tjibanda, Tau, Motaung, Sebata), Ngwenya (Mokoena, Ngwena, Kwena), Dube (Mbizi, Tembo, Mthembu), Mpala (Mhara/Mhala), Tjuma/Tshuma/Chuma (Ng’ombe, Mung’ombe, Sola), Gumbo, Ndebele (Tjibelu, Phupute), Nyathi (Nare, Mokone), Ncube (Shoko, Mokgabong, Tshwene, Motshweneng, Phiri, Msimang, Nsimango), Mpofu
(Phofu, Shaba-Thuka), Khupe (Shulo, Hulo, Mvundla), Sebele, Kulube (Ngulube, Musele), Nungu (Maphosa), Nkala, etc.
A close look at the numbers of people bearing these surnames shows that the Kalanga Nation is perhaps one of the largest in Southern Africa, perhaps surpassed only by the Zulu.
Born a Kalanga, always a Kalanga. Ndaboka imi n’Kalanga weBulilima-Mangwe ndilikuTitji.
Correcting the Settlement History of Bakalanga
by Abel A. Mabuse Sunday Standard
Over the last two months, I have read with shock and sometimes disdain at some apparent confusion surrounding the settlement history of Bukalanga. Since December 2012, a number of disingenuous newspaper articles have been published on these two related topics. Misleading information covered in these issues has compelled me to offer some direction on the settlement history of Bukalanga. Among the disingenuous articles I read, there are three which I find interesting.
One article covers a story of one certain Facebook elected Ndebele Induna (chief) who claims to have the right to political leadership of all Bakalanga found in the North East District (NED). The misled leader is a youthful man better described in newspapers as a tertiary dropout who goes by the name Nhlanhla Simon. The claims by Simon were reported in an article in which Dr Manatsha was erroneously quoted by one Mmegi journalist Lawrence Seretse. Information on the arrival of Baperi of Nswazwi and Tjilagwane in Bukalanga was clearly misinterpreted in the article. Dr Manatsha subsequently offered a candid chronicle of events leading to the NED land situation and chieftainship quandary in a paper published in Volume 30, no 24 of Mmegi dated 15 February 2013. The paper focused mainly on the NED and clarified some misrepresentation of historical events covered in the Seretse article.
The other two articles mainly cover the settlement history of Baperi of Tjilagwane in Bukalanga. Of interest is a recent article written by She (Kgosi) Alphonse Nsala of Tjilagwane ward in Tutume. His article titled ‘The real story of Baperi of Tjilagwane’ appeared in Mmegi newspaper volume 30 No 32 dated 01 March 2013. This is in fact a rebuttal of an earlier account of Baperi of Tutume published by one Barati Mathambo in Mmegi of 13 December 2012. In his account, She Nsala of Tjilagwane attempted but did not quite succeed in correcting some historical delusions carried in Mathambo’s article on the settlement history of the Baperi living in Bulilima (areas of Bukalanga around Sebina, Nshakazhogwe, Madandume, Tjilagwane and Nswazwi where Lilima dialect is spoken).
The point raised by the leader of Tjilagwane about the settlement of the Baperi at Old Shoshong and their subsequent movement to Old Palapye with Bangwato is inconsistent with the available body of literature of the origins of Baperi. Secondly, the statement that the Baperi were led by Tjilagwane and Shabalume into Bukalanga in 1902 is not correct. She Nsala should know that since the Baka Nswazwi Royal Dynasty spans at least 8 generations, his 1902 date cannot be correct. To buttress my point, the dynasty begins with Shabalume who becomes Nswazwi I and ends with John Madawo Nswazwi stylised Nswazwi VIII. This historical information is freely available at the tombstone of She John Madawo Nswazwi VIII at Nswazwi Royal Cemetery. If She John Madawo Nswazwi VIII was born in 1875 in Bukalanga, how is it possible that his first generation forefather, Shabalume or Nswazwi I, led Baperi from Old Palapye into Bukalanga in 1902?
Another important aspect that can be deduced from She Nsala and Barati Mathambo’s articles is the extensive misinterpretation of the settlement record of Bulilima region in Bukalanga. The two articles fail to acknowledge that when Baperi arrived in the areas around Tutume, they found the Bawumbe of Madandume in the areas around Duthu la Majambubi. The Bawumbe of Madandume, Nshakazhogwe, Motshwane ward in Sebina and BaSenete are Balilima. They venerate tjibelu as their totem and have the longest occupation record in Bukalanga than any other groups found in the area.
These people lived in areas around present day Tutume, Goshwe, Nkange up to Maitengwe as early as AD 1700 (Mabuse 2012). The residences of the chiefs of these Balilima are found on hilltop ruins such as Selolwane near Tjilagwane, Sulawali and Matombo Mashaba on the western side of Madandume. The largest of these prehistoric Balilima villages is found at Magapatona Ruin, some 5 kilometres north of Goshwe village. These Balilima people were found here by all Sotho-Tswana-turned Bakalanga groups of Baperi of Tjilagwane, Nswazwi and Masunga and the Bakaya of Tjizwina.
NOTE: The rest of Mabuse’s original article was a history of Bakalanga settlement, which has been posted in the history section of this site.
*Abel A. Mabuse is Head of Archaeological Research Laboratory at Botswana National Museum and writes in his personal capacity as an Archaeologist with Bukalanga roots.
New book retraces the history of BuKalanga
Reprinted from Bulawayo24News
A young Plumtree author, Ndzimu Unami Emmanuel Moyo (born 29 Mar. 1982), has written two books chronicling the history of the BuKalanga people, a tribe existing in many remote parts of Matabeleland.
Emmanuel said one of the books, The Rebirth of BuKalanga, traces the history of BuKalanga, showing that the Kalanga people were responsible for the establishment of the civilisations of Great Zimbabwe, Mapungubgwe, Khami and that they have been settled in this country, Botswana and in the Limpopo Province for about 2 000 years now”.
“This is my first book and I have written four books in total due for release this year,” he said.
“The other ones are Towards the Renaissance of BuKalanga, which is a companion volume to The Rebirth of BuKalanga. The other two are on entrepreneurship.”
Emmanuel said he was inspired to write by the desire to retrace his identity as he was of Kalanga origin.
“The book is essentially all about history and politics that argues that Zimbabwe is not only composed of the Shona and the Ndebele. The people of BuKalanga in Zimbabwe are identified as Shona and sometimes as Ndebele, yet they are not fully accepted in these communities as evidenced by the suppression of their languages and cultures. I then sought to find out where exactly we belong, and what our history is.”
The book available on Kindle as an e-book version and on Amazon.
“A hard copy will follow thereafter. I am self – publishing the book, meaning I have to finance the production process from design to printing, for which I need R64 000 or $8 000 for the printing of the first 5 000 copies. But the plan is that the hard copy will follow within two months of the release of the Kindle edition,” he said.
“Readers in Europe, North America and Australia will be able to purchase the book from Amazon, Apple iBookstore, Barnes amp; Noble and other online bookstores. Those in Zimbabwe and Southern Africa will be able to purchase the book from Kalahari.com and Exclusives online bookstores.”
The Author, Ndzimu-unami Emmanuel Moyo (born 29 Mar. 1982) was born of Kalanga parents in the Zimbabwean City of Bulawayo, and grew up at his grandparents’ rural home in the District of Bulilima-mangwe, Western Zimbabwe (Matabeleland). He attended school from Grade One to Form Four at Tokwana High School, graduating at the top of the Class of 99. Thereafter he worked for two companies in his hometown of Plumtree, and later entered the Theological College of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo in 2008, later dropping out in 2009 to focus on research for his book, The Rebirth of Bukalanga. During that time he also completed a Diploma in Personnel Management with the Institute of People Management of Zimbabwe (IPMZ), graduating with Distinction.
Mr Ndzimu-unami Emmanuel has also worked as a community organizer in Plumtree, serving as Organizer for the Plumtree Business Association (PBA) and Deputy Secretary for the Plumtree Residents and Development Association (PRADA). He has also served as a Union Leader, serving as a Branch Committee Member for the Zimbabwe Energy Workers’ Union (ZEWU) and Shop Steward at his workstation in Plumtree. A passion for justice, fairness and equality is what drives his work and life.
Briefly, the book asserts the following:
Bukalanga constitute more than 75% of the population of Matabeleland, land they have continuously settled continuously for a period of 2000 years. The assertion that the Ndebele stole land from the Shona is false and baseless. The Shona have never at any point in history settled in Matabeleland.
The Shona have no claim to Matabeleland as claimed by Shona political elites and taught in school. The Shona are no more indigenous to Zimbabgwe than the Ndebele. They settled in Zimbabgwe c.1700, whereas the Ndebele settled in the 1830s. This means the Shona cannot claim to ‘own’ Zimbabwe better than the Ndebele, they are both ‘recent immigrants’.
The people commonly styled “foreign intruders from Zululand” are mainly the Kalanga who constitute more than 75% of the population of the so-called Matabeleland, are the builders of Mapungubgwe, Great Zimbabgwe, Khami, etc. Their settlement in Zimbabgwe predates that of the Shona and Ndebele by over 1500 years. The book argues that it is therefore baseless for the Shona to accuse Bukalanga for having “stolen Shona land, cattle and women” in the 19th century when the Shona found Bukalanga settled in this land already.
The book also argues that much of Shona precolonial history taught in the schools is false and contradicts the earliest sources available, ie.,Portuguese documents dating back to 1506. Shona precolonial history is fiction which was informed by Shona spirit mediums in the 20th century. Extensive evidence is provided in the book in the form of long quotes from the original sources – Portuguese documents, missionary and explorer/hunter records and archaeological works.
After answering the question of what happened to Bukalanga, the book goes on to call for the restoration of all languages in Zimbabgwe, and to that end calls for the establishment of Zimbabgwe (and Botswana) as a Federal State made up of four states – Bukalanga (Matabeleland and parts of Midlands), Karangaland (Masvingo and parts of Midlands), Manicaland and Mashonaland.