Difference between Tsonga & Shangaan, the misplaced information in History

Vatsonga suffer from an psychological state, and this can be a results of centuries of oppression, within the variety of:

1. Christianity
2. Slavery and Colonization
3. Apartheid
4. Tribalism
5. Xenophobia

Vatsonga don’t know their basic history, and lack confidence in their ethnic identity. Vatsonga in urban areas usually convert to Zulu and Sotho, this trend began within the 1960’s and gained momentum within the 1990’s; so within the new millennium, the European culture became a 3rd escape. Fortunately, there’s a brand new wave of consciousness and pride from Vatsonga of this generation, however, they’re misguided.

Let us facilitate your add up of this confusing identity:


• The word Tsonga could be a (Southern, Western and Northern) transition of the word Rhonga (which is Eastern), meaning Dawn/East.
• The Tsonga grouping has existed for over 1000 years.
• Tsonga is an group, made from Clans, Phratry and Chiefdoms ta VaKaranga, VaMbayi, VaSotho, VaNgoni and other ancient identities. Phratry: “A grouping of clans related by traditions of common descent or historical alliance supported kinship.”
• Plural = Vatsonga (People).
• Singular = Mutsonga (Individual).
• Language = Xitsonga (With over 5 main dialects).
• Way of life = Vutsonga (Also accustomed consult with ancient Tsonga territory)


• The word Shangaan could be a Tsonga transition of the Nguni word Changana, aiming to destroy/invade/attack (in context to; “uSochangane, okade achanga imizi yamadoda nabafazi!”
• The word Shangaan comes from Sochangane, who is patriarch of Amashangaan, who was an 1800s Zwide General from KwaNongoma; real name is Manukuzi, founding father of the Gaza Chiefdom. Soshangaan is his nom du guerre (Nickname).
• The Amashangaan are of Ndwandwe lineage, they arrived to measure among Vatsonga as a runaway group from the Zulu, within the early 1800s.
• The Shangaan are a part of the Tsonga speaking grouping and also the last to be assimilated. However, the Shangaans choose to be identified as Nguni (Ndwandwe) and not Tsonga, although they been speaking Xitsonga and living amongst Vatsonga for over 150 years.


• Tsonga was used interchangeably with Shangaan from the 1960’s within the Transvaal mines and adjoin the years. The Gazankulu homeland made Vuchangani official as a Tsonga identity and language, and created a double barrel identity.
• The word Shangaan has derogatory assuming to other Tsonga groups. it’s incorrectness to talk to all Vatsonga as Shangaan, because it has historical connotations of oppression and reduces Tsonga history and identity to the Mfecane era.
• However, Vatsonga do talk to them as Shangaan, as another label for Tsonga (misguided) due to the brainwash unleashed by Transvaal, Portugal, Apartheid and also the Homeland.
• To the remainder of Southern Africa, Shangaan means weakling, ugly, animal and foreigner. And to the Nxumalos, Shangaan is that the name of their forefather and clan. it’s not a language or an identity.


• There are 12 million* Xitsonga speakers in Southern Africa, including the Shangaan clan.
• Shangaan are a minority clan of the Tsonga ethnic group; The Hlengwe, Lenge, Khoseni, Hlanganu and Valoyi frame majority of the group.
• Refer to us as Vatsonga to avoid insulting anyone.

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