Tonga Culture

New book by Joann McGregor: Crossing the Zambezi

Crossing the Zambezi
The Politics of Landscape on a Central African Frontier
by Joann McGregor

‘Crossing the Zambezi is a magnificent study of how a great river can structure the lives of the people who live along it. ...Europeans perceived the Zambezi as a boundary rather than a uniting force, and McGregor traces out the consequences of that boundary-making as people became defined as citizens of different countries... This is a major contribution both to ethnography and the history of the region. A book for ecologists, anthropologists, political geographers, historians and Africanists.’
– Elizabeth Colson, Professor Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley

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Launch of Tonga Books + Commemoration of Kariba Dam built 50 years ago

Binga district witnessed the launch of grade one to seven ChiTonga Books titled Bwacha Lino on the 27th of November 2008. This launch was organised by the Zimbabwe Publishing House ZPH Publishers (Pvt) Ltd. It was dawn and a dream come true for the BaTonga people. It was a day of joy and jubilation. For the first time, Tonga language will be taught from grade one to seven in the Binga and Nyaminyami Schools. I would therefore like to applaud ZPH, TOLACO, BASILWIZI TRUST and Save the children for the job well done. 

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Tonga proverbs, by Isaac Mumpande

Tonga.Online has obtained permission from Isaac Mumpande for uploading of Tonga proverbs from his collection onto the website.
The second part will be added in the near future. We are grateful that authority to upload the book on the website was
solicited for and granted by the writer - twalumba. We tried to look for the soft copy of the book from the publisher but all in vain. In this regard, we
had to re-type the whole book.

Best regards, Pottar Muzamba

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Tonga Sayings, by Isaac Mumpande

This is the part titled "sayings" from Isaac Mumpandes Collection:


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Panos Report: Tales of Resettlement - Kariba Dam and the Tonga

 In the late 1950s, the Tonga people of Zambia and Zimbabwe were subject to forced removal on a massive scale, to make way for the construction of a huge hydro-electric dam across the Zambezi River in Southern Africa. The Kariba Dam was the largest man-made dam in the world at that time. It was a powerful symbol for technological achievement and international cooperation. However, little attention was paid to the implications for the 57,000 Tonga who had to leave behind their homes and fertile land along the banks of the Zambezi, according to this Panos report, which was compiled with help also from Tonga.Online project Binga and Kunzwana Trust, Harare.

Read more in the Panos Report and below:  

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Spotlight on Basilwizi

Basilwizi is a non-profit advocacy and community development organisation operating in the Zambezi River Valley, in the remote northern regions of Zimbabwe. The organisation works for the social and economic empowerment of the Tonga and Korekore communities living in the four districts of Hwange, Binga, Gokwe North and Nyaminyami. 

Basilwizi was founded in 2002 by the Tonga and Korekore people themselves, in order to address the vast social and economic problems facing their communities. The Tonga and Korekore rank amongst the most vulnerable population groups in Zimbabwe - suffering from chronic poverty, political marginalisation, and socio-economic underdevelopment, that stem as far back as the 1950s, when these communities were forcibly evicted to make way for the Kariba Dam and Lake Kariba. 

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Oral history

Chivunduka was a drum brought by the Kore Kore invaders from Gunuuswa (their mythical land of origin). It could move by itself, rolling or crawling, but at night would borrow the feet of wild animals to take itself about. It was a famous hunter and when in a good mood would supply the people with meat it had killed. On the death of every third paramount chief, Chivunduka's parchment would burst and a man would be killed and his skin used to replace the broken one. The Tonga under Siambese are said to have briefly taken Chivunduka as a reward for their assistance to the vaGove in a successful battle against the Shankwe, who were demanding tribute and recognition from them. 

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Tonga Tonkunst: One man One Note

by Keith Goddard

The music of the Valley Tonga is as extraordinary and distinct as it is beautiful. To date, however, it remains almost totally unexplored by researchers and academics (except in regard to musical instruments as artifacts of material culture) and it is virtually unknown outside the Tonga area.

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Chilungununo chakajanwa

Chivunduka yakali ngoma yakayetwa abasilumamba bamaKore Kore Kabazwa ku Gunuuswa. Yakali kulyeedelela ayilikke kaikunkulika, pesi mansiku kailomba maulu abanyama bamusokwe kutegwa iyendeende. Yakali muvwimi ulampuwo chakuti ikuti yakujaya yakali kuwaabila bantu boonse nyama. Choonse chiindi alufu lwamwami mupati watatu chakali kubbaluka chibambo chaChivanduka awalokwakali kujeegwa muntu, wakali kufundwa chikumba chakali kuba nchenchicho nchakali kubambwa.


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The Valley Tonga

The Valley Tonga live in the middle Zambezi Valley on both sides of the Zambezi River in Zambia and Zimbabwe. Upstream is the Victoria Falls, downstream is Kariba Dam. The Valley Tonga are the third largest ethnic group in Zimbabwe after the Shona and Ndebele.

The best known fact about the Tonga is that they were forcibly removed from the banks of the Zambezi River forty years ago to make way for the building of Kariba. Once deported from their habitat, they were abandoned.

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Music of the Buntibe

There are eighteen Tonga chieftancies in Zimbabwe and within each exists at least one ngoma buntibe group, if not three or four. Each team consists of forty people or more. Around thirty men play up to nineteen different sizes of horn (nyele) fashioned from different species of kudu, in particular impala for the higher horns and sable for the lower ones.

In addition, there are between five and seven conical-shaped drums ranging from small hand-held ones played with sticks to a giant drum requiring one or more persons to support it in addition to the principal player. The smaller drums are covered with cowhide, the larger ones with elephant's ear.

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Simonga - The Ngoma Buntibe Group from Siachilaba

The ngoma buntibe group at Siachilaba takes its name from the composer (mwimbi), called Simonga, who fled with his relatives from fighting chiefs in Zambia to Siachilaba sometime towards the beginning of this century. He was the grandfather of Sialwindi Munkuli, the present leader of Simonga and the keeper of the horns in central Siachilaba today.

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Chitonga Dictionary

Welcome to the second edition of the Chitonga Online Dictionary. It was originaly created 1997 when Simonga traveled to Austria. This 2nd edition was done as part of the ICT Workshop in Syansundu in May 2004. Thanks to Mildred, Notie, Lackson, Norman and Kapongo Chipo for their contribution.

Please feel free to mail more words and sentences!

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