Social Cohesion: Vatsonga-Machangana and Beyond

Most of the current African history was recorded after Europeans arrived in the continent and at most it was recorded with an intention to support and put in the mainstream a specific agenda. Some of these missions are being unveiled as Africans begin to interrogate and debate what has been recorded as the gospel versus what was shared as the truth from each generation to the next.

Currently, one of the cases which seems to highlight or challenge the inconsistency in the recorded history is the pending amaHlubi High Court battle against the colonial legacy they claim robbed them of their kingdom and its independence from the Zulu kingdom. I believe if the amaHlubi monarch was not reduced to that of chieftaincy but received the same recognition as that of amaZulu, amaMpondo, VhaVenda, amaNdebele and 3 others within South Africa. It would not have led to the current situation where some of the evidence and conditional facts have to be used to validate the independence and existence of a tribe.

It seems certain individuals seem to overlook the issue of ethnic group identity and independence but only focus on social cohesion and nation building or vise versa, the mission to build a larger and stronger nation and encourage social cohesion should not be done at the expense of smaller tribes and their right to exist or only focus on defining the ethnicity of a group at the expense of unity and social cohesion.

I will leave the history part about how the Vatsonga and Machangana people came to leave and coexist with each other or what brought about the difference to historians for fear of digressing away from what persuaded me to write this opinion piece.

The issue of one king or the existence of a Vatsonga or Machangana monarch was put to rest by President JG Zuma as per a report compiled by a panel of traditional experts appointed to investigate traditional leadership dating back to 1927 by President T Mbeki in 2003 (some are currently requesting that the period should be extended beyond 1927).

I believe that the need to distinguish between who are Vatsonga and who are Machangana was not a serious matter under the leadership of Dr HWE Ntsan’wisi, I also believe everyone rallied behind the idea of social cohesion and building a mighty and strong nation unified by more than just physical boundaries or tribal conquest.

Looking back at the Gazankulu administration performance record. I can safely say that the Vatsonga na Machangana tribe worked very hard for the unity and the wellbeing of its existence.

Industrial Zones were created throughout Gazankulu with two major zones in Letaba and Mukhuhlu aimed at employing Vatsonga na Machangana and those of neighboring places. About 10 townships were created to cater both Vatsonga na Machangana and those of other tribes employed by the administration during that difficult social, economical and political period. Our people received superior health service without prejudice of being Mutsonga or Muchangana but as a basic human right from any of the Healthcare facilities (GAZ7).

Majority of us who used the “Ririmi ra Manana” textbook benefited from the well-researched and quality Xitsonga written language provided by the department of education (GAZ4) of that time.

The boarding schools set up by the then administration have managed to preserve our language and culture especially with those whose parents decided to settle and improve their life in and around current Gauteng province. Together and through this unity our elders managed to fight the stereotypes and ridicules that majority of our people experienced. Through our unity we managed to make sure that our names and surnames are written using the correct spelling and not misspelled by a public office administrator from another tribe or who spoke a different language.

Maybe some of the things I list above appear insignificant because today we as parents still enjoy the benefits of the unity that existed then but in hindsight when we listen to our kids struggle to pronounce their meaningful African names we gave them with pride or their own surnames. When we find ourselves having to pay about R750.00 for extra classes in order for our kids to be exposed to the basics of Ririmi ra Manana, maybe that brings some kind of comfort that the unity existed for a bigger conviction than kingdoms or chieftaincy.

United we built more and achieved greater things. The current debate about who is Mutsonga and who is Muchangana or attempting to highlight the differences, If not destroying a bit of confidence that our people were slowly gaining, it is contributing to the stereotyping and undermining that we endured in the past through other South African tribes that felt we are not human enough to be South African citizens.

The kind of stereotyping that associated being Mutsonga or Muchangana with being inferior (mashangaan wors, mashangaan bag, mashangaan dress code and mashangaan behavior). The kind that reduced conversations and ideas to “lhe Shangaan lazini” – what does this Shangaan person know. This kind of stereotyping led to majority of Vatsonga na Machangana who migrated to Gauteng (South Central Transvaal) for economic opportunities to camouflage and not speak their mother tongue with the hope of being accepted within their country of birth. Possible your argument to the above would be that you wouldn’t and still don’t roll over to this kind of discrimination but keep in mind this is not about an individual’s capabilities but the collective (with more focus on the weakest link).

Even primitive soldiers knew not to fight each other while waiting for war, because they were aware that there will come a time where they will have to stand together again and face the enemy with the same passion and honest actions to defend that which brought them together regardless of their uniqueness. Together as Vatsonga Machangana, have fought bigger battles and won. When in 1912, Hosi Muhlava decided to participate in the formation of the South African Native Congress (Current ANC) he was neither representing Vatsonga nor Machangana but the collective, the united tribe that suffered under apartheid, the united tribe that fought stereotypes and ridicule in their own country.

Our believe in social cohesion and nation building is not a weakness but us believing in the vision of a South Africa built on a culture of reverence for human rights and an identity founded on the values of non-sexism, non-racialism and equality. Aimed to build an overarching national identity through common citizenship and equality before the law as entrenched in Our Constitution. Because of our believe and support, together we fought and addressed the tribalistic thinking and actions by David Thidiela and had him held responsible for the tribalistic insults against Tatana Victor Hlungwani. United, we showed our unhappiness towards Desmond Dube’s tribalistic and degrading silly jokes. Recently we rallied behind Dr TH Chauke and made sure that our icons can not be undermined be it because of their ethnicity, language or kind of music they choose to perform. Our unrelenting support has elevated Sho-Madjozi (Maya Xichavo Wegerif) to higher levels and it continues to fuel her burning desire yo bhombisa XiGaza na Ririmi ra Manana (to show pride in xiGaza and our mother tongue).

We can not now be side tracked and forget about our believe and vision to build a strong and unshaken united front. I am in agreement with Bohani Shibambu in his article: Finding Space in a Democratic South Africa – , when he says that specific tactics were necessary during a specific time and we can not blindly want to implement the same tactics under a different revolution, we fought over the implementation of a single monarch over the Vatsonga na Machangana tribe and won. It is time to change tactics and fight against an old enemy aimed at undermining, ridiculing and insulting us as the citizens of South Africa.

I believe the coexistence and connection between Vatsonga na “Machangana” (Vatsonga-“Machangana”) started before the beginning of the 16th century when the Portuguese arrived. But like I said, I will leave history lessons to historians.

“If we win by losing ourselves, by losing what we were fighting for, then we never really win.” – Meg Collett

Once Had A Friend

I once had a friend.

She told me the truth.

The truth was mixed with her fantasy and my anticipation.

I once had a friend.

She told me a lie.

Her truth I treated like reality and never interrogated.

I once had a friend.

I told her, I knew that her truth were lies.

I no longer have a friend.


Emotions are supposed to be raw, wild, brutal…

You don’t want them to be a flame behind a lantern glass.

You want them to be a bursting flame, with sparks to spark more in you.

Not as fragile as a candle, that can die at the gentlest breeze.

Long Live Robert Mugabe, Your Soul Lives On in US by H.E Mr E Miyeni

I sheared tears when I saw, the televised arrival of the remains of the late President Robert Migabe at the Robert Mugabe international Airport in Harare.

I sheared tears that were a surprise to me because he, the late former President, is a Zimbabwean and I, a South African.

Nothing could be common and intimate between me and the late President of Zimbabwe because between the age of the two of us is more than 40 years generational gap that would dictate no common affinity between the both of us.

Yet, he the late President Robert Mugabe was the first seating or otherwise Head of State whose hand I shook in the early nineties at JFK Airport when he attended the UN General Assembly partially as the chair of the Frontline States at the eve of the demise of the apartheid regime.

I remember his soft palm and a gentle hand shake, unlike the anticipated hands of a freedom fighter.

I remember as if it is yesterday, his concerned and sympathetic eyes that settle reassuringly on my innocent face as I was announced to him as the representative of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania.

I suddenly felt reassured that my decision to fight against colonial apartheid and injustice was correct becuase, I felt that I was spiritually in good company.

I sheared tears because little did I anticipate his unwavering pronouncement that, until South Africa is free, no African country will be free.

Indeed he shared the podium if the UN General Assembly with one of the great front men and big personalities of the struggle against colonial occupation, Yasser Arafat, whose name was my unofficial nickname given to me by my friends at varsity.

Arafat was equally a towering personality whose palm was equally comforting when I rushed to shake his hand after he had presented his speech at the General Assemby podium.

These two struggle luminaries were at that time the uncompromising resistance voice that held sway in overseeing that justice, peace, freedom and liberation shall revisit countries between Palestine to the north and South Africa to the South.

They, in unison demanded the release of the then most famous political prisoner, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, who I subsequently met for the first time at close range during his first visit to the US after his release from prison.

On the western front, the illuminating voice of Fidel Costro bellowed throughout the General Assembly Hall, dwarfing the very attentive silence echoing in its uncompromising demand for universal justice by unhinging the chains of colonial oppression while resisting the US unjust Cuban Blockade.

He, Fidel Castro, also was the front spoke person for the oppressed people of South Africa.

They all have died and the recent death of Robert Mugabe marks the end of an era of the global giants who stood towering over all, not because they were the richest leaders or ruled over the richest countries in the world, but they were respected, honoured and trusted in life as they are in death, because of the values they stood ready to die for.

I shall sheared no tears any more because I see no other man to pick their baton to move forward our struggle.

I shall depend on my wits to sustain pressure against the forces of darkness. I remain exposed and directly in the frontline of the firepower of the brutal persisting dark force of oppression.

I wonder to myself, what will be of the fatherless and voiceless people whose interests are left unguarded before the devouring competitive global infrastructure wherein money holds sway above ideals.

Go well the Son of the Soil, go well our Liberation Hero, Go Well.

I know that in your deathbed, you knew that the battle for liberation was not finished. Only the strategies of the colonialists have morphed while persuing their original objective of conquering the people and plunder their resources to finance the unsustainable life styles of morden opulence at the peril of our very common vessel of life, the planet.

The future heroes shall come from the unexpected personalities. Your batons shall be picked from you, our Fallen Heroes and put to good use.

If not for ourselves, we shall continue to resist foreign invaders even if to honour you through receiving your spiritual support, for tomorrow shall come.

Rest Now Son of Africa, Rest for you Lived a Fulfilling Life in Sacrifice for the Down Trodden Lots.

Rest Now Son of the Soil for in Your Memories, We Know What to Do to Secure our Future,” Rest in Peace.

South African Representative in Mali.
His Excellency Mr E Miyeni.
Ambassador Etraordinary and Plenipotentiary.

Memoir on RG Mugabe and his Passion for Zimbabwe by David Van Wyk (@_David_van_wyk)

“On the passing of Robert Mugabe.
Julie and I landed in Harare on 13 January 1983. It was to be our home for the almost the next decade. My daughters Roxanne and Rosa were born there in Parirenyatwa public hospital. #RIPMugabe

It was eerie because just days before the Apartheid regime began destabilising Zimbabwe by blowing up the fuel pipeline between the Mozambican port city of Beira and Harare. The plane landed in a city in which nothing moved, no busses, no cars, no noise.

Robert Mugabe and ZANU came to power in 1980.
The new government dramatically reduced military spending and massively increased health and education spending, building thousands of schools and clinics across the country, and dramatically reduced the housing backlog.
Teachers were imported from all over the world, Australia, New Zealand, England, Mauritius, Ghana and Uganda. Teacher training colleges were set up everywhere. He was, first and foremost, a teacher with a great love for education, which he wanted pass on to all Zimbabweans. The new government also imported experts, on condition that every expatriate employed had to be shadowed by a black Zimbabwean who would take over the job once sufficiently skilled.

But then South Africa blew up the pipeline and unleashed RENAMO on steroids to try and destroy Samora Machel’s government in Mozambique. Zimbabwe is a landlocked country. If things go wrong in neighbouring countries Zimbabwe feels the consequences. To the south the Apartheid regime, to the east Mozambique.
The Zimabwean army was deployed to save Mozambique from the ravages of a terrorist war trained armed and financed by South Africa. Zimbabwe’s independence started going pear shaped as a result. This part the media never tells you.

South Africa openly stated that it would cozy up to ZAPU in Zimbabwe and turn it into a second RENAMO. ZAPU was not interested in an alliance with the Apartheid regime given its close historical relations with the ANC and its association with the Soviet Union. However, just the threat from South Africa was sufficient for Mugabe to unleash the infamous Fifth Brigade on Matabeleland. The South African connection is something that the media also conveniently never mentioned.

Mugabe also made many mistakes. He took too long to deal with the land question. He tried too hard at reconcilliation with a racist white minority who were simply not interested. He alienated the urban working class. He tried too hard to appease the British commonwealth.
Zimbabwe is a favourite hobby horse of neo-liberals. They particularly chew on the contentious issue of the land reform program, but like all neo-liberals they are averse to history, and so distort the truth.
It is not the land reform per se that is the problem in Zimbabwe it is the fact that it did not occur soon after independence.

He thought that the IMF and the World Bank would offer solutions to the economic crisis that followed the impact of the destabilisation of Mozambique.
It is also a fact that in the late 1980s Mugabe became a slave to the World Bank and the IMF who destroyed not only Zimbabwean agriculture but also recommended the wholesale deindustrialistion of the country.
Your agriculture collapsed after the IMF/World Bank recommended in 1988 that the Zim government increase subsidies to cash crops and decrease subsidies to food crops so as to repay its inherited war debt from UDI quicker (The World Bank and the IMF had funded the Rhodesian army).
In addition, the World Bank imposed a very costly new coal-fired power station in Hwange and completely mismanaged the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Commission.
The drought of 1989 saw both cash crops and food crops failing, resulting in the first food lines in Zimbabwe. The IMF/World Bank then imposed the Economic Structural Adjustment Program (ESAP) on an already suffering population, which Zimbabweans joked should read Economic Suffering for African People.

At the time, Mugabe was the blue-eyed boy of the UN, the Commonwealth, and the World Bank and speculation was that Bernard Chidzero would get a senior appointment at either the World Bank or the IMF. Mugabe happily detained and tortured any left-wing critics at the time and sent in the army to remove ‘squatters’ from white-owned farms. He also foolishly removed all protection for local industry at the advice of the Worl Bank and the IMF, as these global institutions advised him that he could import manufactured goods more cheaply than what Zimbabwe produced them. The country manufactured Land-Rover to 80% local content, it produced its own radios and electronic goods (Supersonic) and cloth (David Whitehead). As well as assembling Citroen and Peugeot.

In following World Bank and IMF advice the country became rapidly deindustrialised and unemployment grew apace.
Mugabe’s failure and that of the British government to address the land issue early on and taking advice from the IMF and World Bank are what led to the country’s economic challenges.

As a refugee, Zimbabwe gave me a job as a teacher. It allowed me to do my Honours degree at the University of Zimbabwe. It treated me and my family with respect. I have fond memories and made many friends in Zimbabwe & globally because of the exposure to many nationalities from Africa and globally.

Mugabe was a highly educated and articulate man. Under different circumstances he could have taken Zimbabwe far, but we do not make history under conditions of our own choosing.”

The above is a thread of tweets by David Van Wyk and I tried to construct them into a connected memoir of RG Mugabe and his love for Zimbabwe.

Prayer and Action

I saw a facebook status update, from a friend and for the life of me. I don’t remember who, but they wrote something to the following effect : “I use to believe that prayer changes everything, but I have since learned that prayer changes me to be able to change things”.

This status update has been stuck in my head and the more I think about it, the more it makes sense.
No matter how much you pray, God will not do away with temptation, challenges and our weaknesses.
Religion is not about your environment but it is about your relationship with God/Allah/The Creator. For as long as you are in peace spiritually, no confusion, temptation, challenges or weakness will make your world spin.

Prayer is aimed at changing you and not you situation or environment. You have the power to change your situation for as long as self is content and peaceful. You will not be destructed, tempted or swayed by your weaknesses but will remain resolute in your path, decisions or hearts desires.

Word alone will not change that which is of this world, the spirit was given a body in order to influence that which is of this world. Allow prayer to change you and not hope that it changes your environment or situation.

My old man once told me a story of a man on the one end of a dam and wanted to cross over to the other side. He saw a boat, it had two rowing sticks. One written Action and other Prayer, when the man used all his energy on one, the boat would turn in circles but never moved forward. Until the man learned that prayer and action have to be in sync, one without the other one cause confusion.

To the friend who posted “I use to believe that prayer changes everything, but I have since learned that prayer aimed at changing me in order to be able to change things”. Thanks a lot, I learned alot from your status.

Mzwakhe Mbuli ~ The Day Shall Dawn.

We saw life 
We had hope.
His words echoed victory 
Brought Black pride to the young.
We were fascinated by his word play
We yearned to be writers with sole.
To twang and pronounce English words like the British, was not part of our world
With a heavy accent, we flowed and made sense talking this foreign language.

The canvas is tainted
Our pure memory is polluted.
All which was his lessons, was lost
His words lost meaning, his tapes left to collect dust.

Nsinya Wa Milawu

Rhandza Hosi Xikwembu xa wena, hi mbilu ya wena hinkwayo.
Ni moya wa wena hinkwawo,
Ni ku anakanya ka wena hinkwako .

Lowu hi wona nawu lowukulu, lowo rhanga.
Kutani lowa vumbirhi, lowu fanaka na wona
Hi lowu wunge : Rhadza munhu-kuloni, kukota loko u tirhandza.

Ripfumelo ra Vaapostola

Ndzi pfumela eka Xikwembu,
Tatana wa matimba hinkwawo.
Mutumbuluxi wa tilo ni misava.
Ndzi pfumela eka Yesu Kriste,
N’wana wa Xona a ri un’we.
Hosi ya hina.
U tswariwile hi matimba ya Moya lowo kwetsima,
A velekiwa hi wanhwana Mariya.
A xaniseka ehansi ka Pontiyo Pilato,
A vambiwa exihambanweni, a fa, a lahliwa esirheni.
A xikela endhawini ya lava feke.
Hisiku ra vunharhu, a pfuka eku feni.
A tlhandlukela etilweni.
Kutani u tshame vokweni ra xinene ra Xikwembu,
Tatana wa matimba hinkwawo.
U ta tlhela a vuya, ku ta avanyisa lava hanyaka ni lava feke.
Ndzi pfumela eka Moya lowo kwetsima,
Ni kereke leyo hlawuleka ya vanhu hinkwavo.
Ni vuxaka bya vahlawuriwa,
Ni ku rivaleriwa ka swidyoho,
Ni ku pfuka ka vafi,
Ni vutomi lebyi nga heriki.

World’s Biggest Victim

President Jacob Zuma has a serious problem, generally known as victim mentality. He has come to realise that this kind of behaviour, comes with sympathy and people in the process of sympathising with the victim, always support and cheer the one who seems like the under dog.

It is said his father passed away while he was very young, I am certain we all know someone who lost a parent and even both in some instances. President Zuma should stop using this to blackmail us when he is expected to be accountable.

Many other successful people made it in life without having progressed much at school, and I am sure you are aware of many more who have contributed immensely in research and the development of life as we know it today. President Zuma should stop using this to blackmail us when he is expected to be accountable.

His victim mentality was seen as a uniting force within the ANC, but that time has passed. His victim mentality has won him many supporters and even today, his victim mentality continues to play with peoples emotions believing to protect the ANC yet they unknowingly continue to sympathise with an individual who does not want to be responsible but cry foul that things are happening to him because he comes from rural kzn, poor family, raised by a single parent and had to dropout from school at a young age.

This victim mentality got us supporting him when criminal charges were were laid against him, when Khwezi said he raped her, when he impregnated his friends daughter, when he lied about a bond to improve his family home and lately when he claimed to have fired the minister of finance and his deputy based on a bogus intelligence report. Still after all this, President Zuma never did anything, he was the victim who found himself at the right place in the wrong time or vice versa.

South Africa’s biggest victim should be protected, should never be called to order and should never be held accountable, after all he is either framed or other people acted inappropriately but never has the victim ever did anything not even inhaled.