Festival seeks to unite VaTsango people across borders

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Chiredzi - The annual festival celebrated by vaTsonga (commonly known as Shangaan) people in eastern Zimbabwean district of Chiredzi will this year be held in Mozambique.
This is because of the high number of Zimbabweans of that tribe in the neighbouring country.
Dubbed 'Ahi Tivaneni', the festival was launched in Zimbabwe in 2017 and was held in South Africa last year (2018). 'Ahi Tivaneni' translates to “let us know each other”.
Patrick Mundau, one of the organisers, told CAJ News Africa that this year's festival is earmarked for August.
He explained that many VaTsonga people in Mozambique did not return to Zimbabwe after fleeing to Mozambique during the liberation struggle in the 1970s.
Mundau also said Mozambique and South Africa were homes to vaTsonga people either by birth or origin, hence the festival was meant to bring together all Tsonga people living in the three countries.
“The VaTsonga tribe is vast and big because our fore fathers were polygamists and had big families. Some had to choose totems and surnames that seemed to be different from others but we are one family mostly staying in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique,” he said.
He mentioned Chauke, Xahumba and Xinyori among the totems.
“We are not different because our forefathers are the same. This is the reason why we decided to hold this annual festival; so that we help each other to trace of lineages,” Mundau said.
More than 5,000 people attended the inaugural festival presided over by Chief Tshovhani (Hasani Mundau) in Chiredzi, Zimbabwe.
About 700 people graced last year’s edition held at Chief Hasani Reuben Mabaso in Homela village in Giyani, Limpopo, South Africa.
The South African chief traces his roots to Zimbabwe.
“We are hoping to have a bigger number from Zimbabwe and South Africa because this get together initiative is being received with enthusiasm from the three countries,” Mundau said.
“We had few members from Mozambique attending the Zimbabwean and South African festivals because the programme was at its infancy. Now that the programme is taking shape, everyone wants to be part of it.”
During the 'Ahi Tivaneni' festival, participants are treated to traditional ethos and culture of the vaTsonga people.
Participants are encouraged to put on Tsonga attire.
Music, dance, poetry and lectures feature prominently.
Tsonga people are one of the few tribes in Africa that still maintain their culture. Their number is over 5 million with the highest population in Mozambique. – CAJ News

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