Tsonga love poem
Xifaniso xa wena ka xivoni,
I xiphato xa mina xo sasekooo,
Kambe hi ku hatlisa xa nyamalala,
"ndza ku rhandza" wo hetelela
→ French poem ←
The Tsonga language and the Tsongas
Translation of the poem in Xitsonga, spoken by the Tsongas (Thongas, Shangaan, Machangan), in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa, as well as Zambia and Swaziland.
Tsonga (Shitsonga, Songa, Thonga, Tonga, Vila, Xichangana, Xiluleke, Xonga, Jonga, Kande, Langanu, Luleke, N'walungu, Bila, Changa, Changana, Djonga, Dzonga, Gwamba, Gwapa, Hanganu, Hlanganu, Hlave, Ngwalungu, Nhlanganu, Nkuma, Shangaan, Shangana, Shihlanganu, Shilanganu, Shingwalungu, Autonym : Xitsonga, Ririmi ra manana), is one of the 11 official languages of South Africa (4 million speakers). As such in South Africa xitsonga is taught in schools and present in the media.
My little poem had to be translated into Tsonga, Niger-Congo language, southern Bantoid, Tshwa-Ronga, which has many dialects which keep the possibility of inter-comprehensibility.
If the term Xitsonga refers to the language and to the variant in South Africa, the other two main variants are the Xirhonga spoken in Mozambique, and the Xitshwa straddling Zimbabwe and Mozambique ... and to name a few 'others: Ronga, Bila, Hlanganu, Nwalungu, Hlengwe, Djonga.
The Tsongas or Thongas who speak this language are Bantu, who are farmers and breeders. They were divided into patrilineal and patrilocal lineages, and lived in dispersed hamlets - kraal - which correspond to localized patriclan segments.
These kraals were home of large extended families, where authority was vested in a hereditary chief assisted by family heads. From a religious point of view like other groups, they made a mixture of the Christian religion and their traditional beliefs. In South Africa, their role as miners in the gold and diamond mines will have been important.
When Soshangane, fleeing the Zulus of Shaka, arrived in Mozambique with his people, they settled in Vutsonga, so their name Tsonga is originated from the name of this place. They are also called Shangaan which designates a part of them. History shows that today they are the result of the mix of Tonga, Kalanga, Tswa, Nguni and San clans.
If the word Xigwamba rather refers to the old way of designating the language, the word Tsonga for me is evocative of African freedom, do not ask me why ... It is like that!