Venda woman singing about a successful trip to collect stinkbugs.
|0,7 million  - 1,0 million |
|Regions with significant populations|
|African traditional, Christian|
The Venda (Vhavenda or Vhangona) are a Southern African people living mostly near the South African-Zimbabwean border. When the bantustan of Venda became self-governing in 1973, their population stood at 200,000. In 1996, there were 500,000 Venda speakers. The 2001 census revealed that there were 800,000 Venda speakers in South Africa, while the 2011 census indicated 1.2 million speakers of the language in South Africa.. According to "South Africa Info". there were 1 209 388 Venda speakers in 2011.
The Venda of today are descendants of many heterogeneous groupings and clans such as:
- Dzindou dza Vharundwa / Dza Mitshetoni /Dza Manenzhe
- Masingo; and
- Runganani(marungadzi nndevhelaho)
Vhadau, Vhakwevho, Vhafamadi, Vhania, Vhangona, Vhalea, and Vhaluvhu were collectively known as Vhangona. The Vhangona and Vhambedzi are considered to be the original inhabitants of Venda and the first people to live there.
The land of Vhangona was later settled by Karanga-Rodzvi clans from Zimbabwe: Vhatwanamba, Vhanyai, Vhatavhatsindi, and Vhalembethu. Masingo, Vhalaudzi, and Vhalemba are late arrivals in Venda.
According to one version of Vhangona oral history the capital of Vhangona was Mapungubwe with the Raphulu Royal House as the most senior royal house of the Vhangona. According to this version the Vhangona Kingdom had +-145 chiefdoms and a King (Thovhele). It is said that the Kingdom was divided into seven districts:
- Tshamanyatsha; and
These districts were ruled by District Chiefs (Mahosi):
- Mudzanani/Nesongozwi Dzanani);
- Nembilwi (Mbilwi);
- Netswime (Tswime);
- Netshiendeulu (Tshiendeulu);
- Netshakhuma (Tshakhuma);
- Netshamanyatsha (Tshamanyantsha); and
- Makhahani (Thulamela).
Each district had Vhamusanda (Junior Chiefs) who paid tribute to Mahosi. This tradition states that one of the Vhangona Kings was King Shiriyadenga whose royal kraal was at Mapungubwe. It is not clear if this Shiriyadenga is the same Shiriyedenga of the Sanga dynasty, a Karanga-Rozvi branch. The Sanga dynasty, in Zimbabwe’s eastern highlands, was founded by Chiphaphami Shiriyedenga who died in 1672. Could it be that at one point the Karanga-Rodzvi Empire extended beyond the Vhembe (Limpopo) River, and that the Vhangona, though not Karanga speaking, were at one point under Karanga-Rodzvi rule?
The other version of Vhangona history disputes that the Vhangona were ever united under one chief or King. It says that the Vhangona had different independent chiefdoms and that the Vhangona chief of Nzhelele valley was Tshidziwelele of the Mudau clan. What is clear, however, is that the Vhatwanamba, who were of Karanga-Rodzvi origin, conquered Vhangona clans who lived in Mapungubwe, Musina, Ha-Tshivhula, Ha-Lishivha, Ha-Matshete, Ha-Mulambwane, and Ha-Madzhie (the areas of Ha-Tshivhula, Ha-Lishivha, Ha-Matshete, and Ha-Mulambwane are known today as Alldays and Waterpoort).
Mapungubwe was the center of a kingdom with about 5000 people living at its center. Mapungubwe as a trade center lasted between 1030 and 1290 AD. The people of Mapungubwe mined and smelted copper, iron and gold, spun cotton, made glass and ceramics, grew millet and sorghum, and tended cattle, goats and sheep.
The people of Mapungubwe had a sophisticated knowledge of the stars, and astronomy played a major role not only in their tradition and culture, but also in their day-to-day lives. Mapungubwe traded with ancient Ethiopia through the ports of Adulis on the Red Sea and the ports of Raphta (now Quelimani) and Zafara (now Sofala) in Mozambique.
Mapungubwe predates the settlements at Great Zimbabwe, Thulamela and Dzata. It is believed that people left Mapungubwe for Great Zimbabwe because Great Zimbabwe was judged to have a more suitable climate.
Venda Education Transformation
In the 70's Vhavenda people were the poorest and least educated black group in South Africa. To entice them to accept independence the South African government built a parliament,administrative offices and ministers houses.
The old government under Mphephu heavily subsidized education in the form of free text books and near zero school fees, even though the government lacked sufficient funds to build proper schools and more emphasis was on excellence and hard work. Today Vendas are one of the most distinguished black South Africans when it comes to education.
Notable Venda people
- E.S. Madima
- Tenda Madima
- Professor Tshilidzi Marwala
- Phillip N'dou
- Joel Netshitenzhe
- Cyril Ramaphosa
- Chief Patrick Ramaano Mphephu
- Professor Ernst Oswald Johannes Westphal, b. 1919 in Khalava, whose tomb in Port Appin carries the words, 'A true son of Venda'.
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