Venda people

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Not to be confused with Vedda people.
For other uses, see Venda (disambiguation).
Venda woman singing about a successful trip to collect stinkbugs.
Total population
0,7 million [1][2] - 1,0 million [3]
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. The bantustan of Venda was created to become a homeland for the Venda people. The Venda people, like their Tsonga neighbours, are South Africa's minority groups, they currently numbers 700 000 speakers in Limpopo Province, while the Tsonga at their doorsteps numbers just 900 000 people, also in Limpopo province.


The Venda people are originally from the Congo and the East African Rift, migrating across the Limpopo river during the Bantu expansion.[4] [5]

The Venda of today are descendants of many heterogeneous groupings and clans such as:

  • Dzindou dza Hakhomunala Mutangwe / Dzatshamanyatsha
  • Dzindou dza Vharundwa / Dza Mitshetoni /Dza Manenzhe
  • Vhafamadi;
  • Vhadau;
  • Vhakwevho;
  • Vhambedzi;
  • Vhafamadi;
  • Vhania;
  • Vhagoni;
  • Vhalea;
  • Vhaluvhu;
  • Vhatavhatsindi;
  • Vhatwanamba;
  • Vhanzhelele/Vhalembethu;
  • VhaDzanani
  • Vhanyai;
  • Vhalaudzi;
  • Masingo; and
  • Vhalemba.
  • 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:

  • Dzanani;
  • Mbilwi;
  • Tswime;
  • Tshiendeulu;
  • Tshakhuma;
  • Tshamanyatsha; and
  • Thulamela.

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 5,000 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[edit]

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 cabinet 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[edit]


Musangwe is a Venda tradition of bare-knuckle fist fighting.[6][7][8]


  1. ^ "South africa – Tsonga and Venda". Country Studies. Retrieved 2008-10-09. 
  2. ^ "INDIGENOUS PEOPLES ARCHIVE - VHAVENDA". Intercontinental Cry. Retrieved 2015-04-01. 
  3. ^ "Vhavenda People". Pilot Guides. Retrieved 2008-10-09. 
  4. ^ "Venda | African Tribes". Kruger National Park. Retrieved 2008-10-09. 
  5. ^ "Vha Venda Culture". Alliance Française. Archived from the original on 16 June 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-09. 
  6. ^ Wende, Hamilton (5 February 2011). "South African boxing that 'makes the heart strong'". BBC. Retrieved 2011-02-06. 
  7. ^
  8. ^