Ndau people

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This page is about the Ndau ethnic group and language of Africa (S 15a according to Guthrie's classification). Ndau is also an alternate name for Pendau, an Indonesian language.

The Ndau is an ethnic group which inhabits the Zambezi valley, in central Mozambique all the way to the coast, and eastern Zimbabwe, south of Chipinge and Chimanimani.

The ancestors of the Ndau were warriors from Mozambique who intermarried with the local population, constituted ethnically and linguistically by Manika, Barwe, Tewe (in the Manika province) and Ndau, which itself includes several sub-groups (in the southern part of the Sofala province). The local population in Zimbabwe prior to the arrival of the Gaza Nguni are said to have come primarily from Mbire, near contemporary Hwedza.

Only in a large sense of the term is Ndau considered as part of the Shona language family. In a strict sense of the term the Ndau language is mainly spoken in the following southern districts of the Sofala province: Machanga, Chibabava, Machaze (Danda), Buzi and in Nhamatanda, Dondo and Beira (Bangwe). It is also partly spoken in Mambone (Inhambane province) and Mossurize. They also speak Portuguese in Mozambique and English in Zimbabwe. In Zimbabwe, Ndau is mainly spoken in Chipinge and Chimanimani districts.There are also major surnames of Ndau clan e.g Sithole, Maposa, Hlathtswayo, Tinarwo, Gwenzi and Madeiwa

Along the railway line between Beira and Zimbabwe the Sena language, originally only spoken in the Zambezi valley, has become a kind of lingua franca.


As of 1997, it was estimated that there were 581,000 speakers of Ndau in Mozambique. There are many Ndau clans residing in South Africa. The village called Mbozi, currently known as Govhu at Malamulele, is composed entirely of Ndau clans such as Sithole, Miyambo, Simango, Moyani, and Machaba. The Moyana clan original belong to the Gumbi Ngoni clan, whereas Msimango (Simango) were of Swazi origin.

Ndau is also one of the languages used in churches in Beira. It's spread is attributed to the spreading of the Zulu peoples, who were sent by Shaka to conquer the country.


Renamo, the Mozambican National Resistance Movement, draws support from the Ndau in the Sofala province of Mozambique (to where its leader Dhlakama belong, as well as the Catholic archbishop of Beira), in part due to their poor socio-economic conditions and their so far too weak inclusion in foreign financial investments and socio-economic developmental programs of the governing party.

The first president of ZANU in Zimbabwe prior to independence was Ndabaningi Sithole, from near Mt. Selinda. Once Robert Mugabe came to power, Sithole formed his own party, ZANU-Ndonga that continues to garner widespread support among the Ndau community. Because of Sithole's contentious relationship with Mugabe, the Ndau population of Zimbabwe has never fully supported President Mugabe's government.

See also[edit]

The Ndau people are also known to be very good herbalists,they are openly expressed by Mozambicans to be the most feared black magicians. This is due to a number of instances where a Ndau would be killed and their spirit would fight back fiercely.there are also widespread claims of witch craft and sorcery practices by the inhabitants of the above mentioned areas especially those who come from chipinge. the majority of Zimbabwean dwellers as a whole are known to fear anyone who threatens them with Ndau approach sorcery and witch doctor consultations of the same area. Corner Zambezi River and Indian Ocean is the Nature sport of All Ndau ethnic group. Ndau people are the inhabitants of land between Zambezi and Vaal Rivers 400BC.They planted Baobab trees as they used powder from Baobab fruits as special stable food. It is a taboo to eat the heart of a cow as they regard the caw as source of life.

Ndau People met with the Khoi/San during the first trade with the Arabs at Shiriyandenga currently known as Mapungumbye. They Traded with Arabs with “Mpalu” “Njeti” and “Vukotlo’’ these are the red,white and blue coloured cloths together with golden beads . Ndau people traded traditional herbs, spiritual powers, Animal skins and bones.

Limila, Gonjo, Shipandagwala, Shingomungomu and Shiriyadengha are the Ndau people from Sithole Clan who moved from Zambezi Valley along Limpopo River and traded with both Arabs and Portuguese people. There are many clans from the Ndau ethnic group such as Sithole, Miyambo, Simango, Mlambo, Mhlanga, Ndlakama, Mashaba and Moyani.