"For the Tonga people like me, there is something deeply biblical about the word MULONGA, yet it is a modern story too. One of massive but unshared technology. One of plentiful water but perpetual drought."
Dominic Muntanga

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People + Tonga Culture
Vale Professor Elizabeth Colson!
Sunday, 21 August 2016 10:48

Dear Friends, It is with great sorrow that we received the sad news of Professor Elizabeth Colson's (99) passing away on 3rd August at her home near Monze / Zambia.

We have met Elizabeth Colson several times in recent years on our way to or from Sinazongwe on the Northern shore of Lake Kariba where we assist the community radio station Zongwe FM. She was such an amazing woman, with her cultural empathy and wit outstanding. We shared her love for the Tonga people. For sure we will always meet her there in the Gwembe Valley where "she left footprints in the sand of time" and where her spirit and inspiration lives on.  Rest In Peace, Elizabeth.

Installation of Chief Siachilaba celebrated with Ngoma Buntibe
Saturday, 28 May 2016 14:02

posted March 28, 2016, by Pathisa Nyathi

A celebration of Ngoma Buntibe, the orchestra of the BaTonga: This musical performance is, by all accounts, a fabulous musical presentation.

Listening to it is like listening to the pervasive sounds of creation of the universe. Viewing the dancers move around is akin to watching the rhythmic movement of cosmic bodies: stars, planets and moons. The music is scintillating and ear-caressing. This is a rendition of the music genre of the BaTonga called Ngoma Buntibe. The occasion is the installation of Nona Mungombe as Chief Siachilaba at a place in Binga District that goes by the name of the chieftainship.

Electricity for All but Those the Kariba Dam Displaced
Wednesday, 27 March 2013 13:06

By Baboki Kayawe / IPS

Indigenous (Tonga) people who were displaced from the Zambezi Valley almost six decades ago for the construction of the Kariba Dam say they have not benefited from the development they made way for. Credit: Kristin Palitza/IPS

Shangano Arts Festival 2012 launched in Binga
Sunday, 04 November 2012 16:56

By Noel Munzabwa, 26th October 2012

The Guest of Honour, CHIEF SIANSALI held the following speech at the launch of SHANGANO ARTS FESTIVAL in Binga on 25th October 2012

THEME: Keeping it alive, long live cultural diversity!

Cultural diversity is a key component to co-existence thus the government of Zimbabwe has made great strides towards promoting national realization of all languages and their respective cultures through constitutional provisions.

Tapfuma Gutsa’s Mulonga exhibition in Binga celebrating Tonga Culture and Heritage
Saturday, 22 September 2012 15:02

The Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) extended a grant for the showcasing of Tapfuma Gutsa’s Mulonga - Wide Waters and Starry Skies - a celebration of Tonga Culture and Heritage by Tapfuma Gutsa and friends exhibition which debuted on the sidelines of the Harare International Festival of the Arts earlier this year. Sida also apportioned funds for the publishing of a catalogue of the works in the exhibition.

The exhibition was preceded by a weeklong workshop programme with women weavers from the Binga who contributed to the initial project research who will be trained in various techniques and will produce products that will be showcased during the exhibition opening. Products include bags, shopping baskets, hats, fish packaging, neck wallets, branding and accessories.

The exhibition opening and launch has been on Saturday the 21st of July at Tusimbe All Souls Catholic Mission Binga where the works that include photographs, two dimensional art works and musical instruments have been on display. Tapfuma Gutsa’s exhibition was essentially an exploration of the Tonga basket making techniques and a study of the culture and customs of the Tonga people.

This exhibition represented works produced in collaboration with upcoming visual artists and includes a jewelry project, stone sculpture revival project and musical instrument project culminating in the production of a limited edition of functional string instruments.

The exhibition opening has been officially opened by Chief Siansali and marked by a traditional ceremony with chiefs and elders from the region including the slaughter of a beast aimed at sealing a bond of trust and mutual appreciation between the project research team and the local populace, while appreciating the local delicacies Binga has to offer.

Tapfuma was staying on to do further research with the Kwabana Art Centre and work with the axe makers to create print outs of conventional tools and further  collaborate to produce standardized and branded products which are environment friendly solutions and technologies that will economically benefit local craftsmen and the country as a whole.

source: from an article from © Culture Fund of Zimbabwe Trust

Paradigm Shift On Minority Languages a Welcome Move
Tuesday, 29 May 2012 07:25

By Steven Mpofu, 11 May 2012

A major paradigm shift is set to begin in Zimbabwe to end the marginalisation of indigenous languages, other than Shona and Ndebele, by elevating them from a Cinderella status to which white settlers first relocated them when colonising this country.

The colonial administration divided Africans into the Ndebele and Shona linguistic groups, giving rise to Matabeleland and Mashonaland -- names that subsume that all other linguistic groups are Ndebeles and Shonas respectively.

As a result an anomalous notion was promoted and perpetuated in the minds of foreigners that the nation of Zimbabwe is made up of only Shonas and Ndebeles.

But colonial administrators chose Shona and Ndebeles as means by which white racist regimes controlled and oppressed the blacks.

However, plans are now at an advanced stage for the University of Zimbabwe, which started teaching Shona and Ndebele in 1960, to deconstruct that monumental, divisive colonial plot with a linguistic renaissance that will see the study of Tonga being introduced during the course of this year, according to Dr Itai Muwati who chairs the Department of African Languages and Literature at UZ.

Altogether about 16 indigenous African languages -- Tonga, Nambya, Kalanga, Sotho, Venda, and Shangaan among others have been identified in Zimbabwe, but only Shona and Ndebele have enjoyed prominence by being studied at university level.

Dr Muwati said this week that his department had made a deliberate decision to expand and manoeuvre its intellectual presence beyond these two national languages, Shona and Ndebele. Work has already started on Tonga and plans are now at an advanced stage to introduce Tonga at UZ this year.

Another minority language, Venda, is already being studied at the Great Zimbabwe University in Masvingo with assistance from South African universities. According to Dr Muwati, Tonga has been prioritised because a lot of work has been done by the Tonga Language and Culture Committee (Tolaco).

"The study of Tonga and other hitherto neglected languages is a fundamental issue that cannot be papered over," Dr Muwati said.

"It is about us as Zimbabweans. It is about expressing our collective national identity by recognising all the demographic categories. This is also about extricating ourselves from the linguistic chaos in which the coloniser plunged us and the rest of Africa. Colonial policies engendered a lopsided linguistic experience that led and still continues to ferment the marginalisation of other linguistic groups apart from Shona and Ndebele."

Dr Muwati pointed out that universities were strategic entry points to these languages. But for universities to remain relevant to their communities, they should not remain dwarfed by colonialist policies that promoted the superimposition of a few languages over others.

"The academy, particularly those departments that teach African languages must now endeavour to democratise their spaces so that they can begin to accommodate more offerings. The elevation of a language to university level was invariably an elevation of the community that speaks the language," Dr Muwati said.

It enhances their self-worth and dignity as citizens, he added. "This is why we have found it judicious to engage on this very critical exercise." For a long time, Tonga, spoken by a large number of people in Zimbabwe, has been marginalised, as have been other so-called minority languages.

The exact number of Tonga speaking people in Zimbabwe has not been established because according to the Tonga people themselves, they have been undercounted in successive censuses because of "a misconception" that the Tonga are found only in Binga district when they are, in fact, also found in places such as the Kariba Dam area.

Consequently the Tonga people have been made to study Shona and Ndebele -- a clear violation of their language rights, which are basic human rights enshrined in the Zimbabwean constitution, Dr Muwati noted. Like the Tonga, other "minority" linguistic groups are also marginalised as they must learn Shona and Ndebele as their mother tongues. Dr Muwati said his department would start teaching Tonga as a way of correcting the neglect of African languages in Zimbabwe.

"In doing this, we have entered into strategic partnerships with regional universities, such as Universities in Zambia, that already teach Tonga," Dr Muwati stated. "We are hosting a symposium in June 2012 to be held in Binga. This symposium brings together the Tonga community and academics from within and outside Zimbabwe to deliberate on fundamental issues on Tonga."

Similar get-togethers between Zimbabwe and other universities elsewhere in Sadc which teach African languages spoken in Zimbabwe might also be necessary in helping local varsities also introduce the study of indigenous languages now in virtual obscurity.

This suggests the formation of communities representing minority languages and cultures, like Tolaco to prepare the way for the study of the marginalised mother tongues. There have been suggestions to promote minority languages by having these recorded in books, for instance, to immortalise them.

For instance, work is known to be under way on translating books written in other languages into Nambya, also a Bantu language spoken in the Hwange area of Matabeleland North province.

But the translators reportedly are aided by a non-governmental organisation which is foreign and whose "vision" apparently does not coincide with the vision of the translators who are said to wish for a Zimbabwean government appointed group to direct the translators with funding provided by the State.

Mr Felix Moyo, a publisher based in Bulawayo, has also suggested the setting up of museums in areas where neglected languages are spoken by locals.

Objects of daily use, their names, and motifs on some of them inscribed in their mother tongue, would help promote the marginalised languages.

But decolonising the Zimbabwean mind appears another important step in democratising neglected African languages in this country. Some people in Matabeleland have been heard glibly saying all linguistic groups in the region are Ndebele.

This kind of thinking lends credence to the colonial designation of different linguistic groups under two language categories of Shona and Ndebele. There is also an imperative and urgent need to decolonise the regional place names Mashonaland, Matabeleland and Manicaland.

Some people have recently suggested names similar to those previously proposed by this pen in these columns, to be in accordance with geographical locations of various provinces and without denoting any presence of a linguistic, or tribal, grouping in the area.

Like the Midlands province, a name with no tribal connotation whatsoever, other provinces might be named after their geographical positions they occupy in the land -- northern, southern, central, western, eastern, etc, for instance. Such provincial names would psychologically make all linguistic groups in the country feel equal citizens of the Zimbabwean state.

This pen hopes that locating the marginalisation of some linguistic groups in Zimbabwe in racist colonial policies, as the UZ has done in this article, will put to rest once and for all a morbid misconception fired by palpable ignorance that the black Government of this country was responsible for the neglect of minority languages.

source: http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=365632033490829&id=100001321078665

Tonga musicians @ HIFA 2012
Tuesday, 24 April 2012 18:59

Greetings from Basilwizi - The people of the Great River!


Basilwizi Trust is excited to advise that for the first time in history of Harare International Festival of the Arts HIFA, Zimbabwe’s largest show case for arts and culture, Tonga musicians have been invited to participate. We are so grateful to this support which presents an opportunity for our people to share and exchange on Zimbabwe’s cultural diversity at an international stage.

see the HIFA website: www.hifa.co.zw Ngoma Buntibe music of the Tonga People

NEW: read the update by Penny Yon / Pamberi Trust (below)

NEW: Mokoomba, the young Tonga boys from VicFalls @ HIFA (further below)

Keeping Tonga Language Alive
Friday, 20 January 2012 14:04

by Tichaona Zindoga / The Herald / allAfrica    19 January 2012

Last year, a major milestone was achieved for minority languages in general and Tonga in particular, when the latter was officially tested at Grade Seven for the first time. The response was resounding, especially in Chief Mola's area in Kariba swhere schools recorded good passes with some achieving 100 percent pass rates in the subject. As Tonga language and culture are synonymous with the Zambezi River that borders Zimbabwe and Zambia, the riverine Chief Mola's area in the northwest of Zimbabwe is one of the bastions of Tonga language and culture. Gokwe North, Binga, Hwange and other districts are other centres of Tonga culture.


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