The ‘polyonymous identity’ of the Hlengwe people of Zimbabwe and their struggle for a ‘collective proper name’

HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies

Field Value
Title The ‘polyonymous identity’ of the Hlengwe people of Zimbabwe and their struggle for a ‘collective proper name’
Creator Mathebula, Mandla D. Mokgoatšana, Sekgothe
Subject — polyonymous identity; collective proper name; Hlengwe; Tsonga; Shangani; Zimbabwe
Description The Hlengwe people of Zimbabwe constitute one of the four sections of the Hlengwe subgroup of the Tsonga – an ethnic group found in four Southern African countries that include Mozambique, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Swaziland. Before the 18th century, these sections constituted a single group that was resident in the Nyaka kingdom, south of Maputo, amongst the Southern Rhonga people. Here, they were known by the names ‘Hlengwe’ and ‘Tsonga/Rhonga’. Before then, they were known by names such as ‘Makomati’ and ‘Tonga/Thonga’. After years of internal and external pressures, the Hlengwe people migrated to the north and eventually settled as four separate sections in the three countries. Are the Hlengwe a distinct ethnic group or part of the Tsonga or Shangaan, or they embrace all these identities? This article investigates the ‘collective proper name’ of the Hlengwe people of Zimbabwe from their current ‘polyonymous identity’. The article further explores the complexity of identity formation and the politics of tribalisation, giving rise to assumed identities and sometimes ascribed and coerced identities in order to fulfil demands of power structures that name and label identities, resulting in exonyms used largely as appellation from above or outside. Although the study was heavily reliant on the available literature and archives, it also follows the oral historical methodology that privileges oral tradition and its associated subgenres of conversations and narratives. Most of the data were collected during the main researcher’s exploit of Zimbabwe, Mozambique and eSwatini whilst documenting the migration of the va ka Valoyi people.Contribution: This article contributes to complex debate of defining and locatin the Hlengwe as group within the post-colonial identities largely shaped by colonial boundaries. Should the be defined as a distinct group, or polysemously as a group with an amorphous identification.
Publisher AOSIS
Date 2020-11-30
Type info:eu-repo/semantics/article info:eu-repo/semantics/publishedVersion — —
Format text/html application/epub+zip text/xml application/pdf
Identifier 10.4102/hts.v76i4.6192
Source HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies; Vol 76, No 4 (2020); 7 pages 2072-8050 0259-9422
Language eng
Coverage — — —
Rights Copyright (c) 2020 Mandla D. Mathebula, Sekgothe Mokgoatšana