Language, names and ethnicity: Cornerstone of African unity


IN the previous edition of this paper, several articles discussed the relationship between Kalanga and Karanga: Are they different or one and the same?
The overwhelming evidence presented indicates that ChiKaranga and TjiKalanga are one and the same language and by extension, speakers of the dialects also are one and the same people.
That there should be any debate about such an obvious matter is a reflection of the depth of mental colonisation perpetuated by Westerners seeking to implement the classical British strategy: Divide and rule.
The first obvious piece of evidence are the Great Zimbabwe style monuments.
These were built literally all over the country we today call Zimbabwe.
The concentration of these in present day Matabeleland clearly indicates that when Great Zimbabwe declined, the centre of gravity of the Kalanga/Karanga people remained in the western part of Zimbabwe.
Khami, Naletale, Dlodlo and other elaborately constructed stone monuments show that there were stable long-term settlements of these people in that part of Zimbabwe.
More research will confirm that the Kalanga/Karanga and their ethnic relatives were settled across the length and breadth of present-day Zimbabwe east into Mozambique and west into Botswana.
The presence of the Njelele/Njerere/Matonjeni shrine of our great ancestor Murenga Sororenzou in the Matombo Hills is evidence of long-term settlement predating the arrival of Mzilikazi and the Nguni-dominated groups that he led.
The Ndebele recognised and respected and also consulted Murenga at the Njerere Shrine.
All the liberation wars against colonial invaders, the First Chimurenga, the Second Chimurenga and more recently, the Third Chimurenga (Hondo yeminda), were authorised, inspired and spiritually led by Murenga speaking from the Njerere Shrine.
The people who related to the Great Spirit Murenga continue to occupy the sub-region beyond present-day Zimbabwe.
Those who seek to divide and rule have made strenuous efforts to use language dialectical differences, to separate the people and undermine their unity.
Misguided self-seeking individuals have bought into the ethnic debate to use it to build their little empires.
The worst of these tendencies today has been re-inforced by white settlers and missionaries who created many ethnic groups out of an otherwise culturally homogenous population of Mwenemutapa Empire citizens.
They came up with Karanga, Zezuru, Manyika and Korekore as distinct ethnic groups.
Through deliberate indoctrination, perpetuated through written documents and Bible versions, they divided and created artificial ethnic barriers within the population of what we now call Zimbabwe.
Where did these so-called Shona tribes originate?
They have absolutely no basis within the real history of our people. The term ‘Shona’ was created by whites.
Perhaps Kalanga/Karanga was more inclusive. But at least Shona recognised there is a common language/cultural denominator to the people in this country.
In our local language called Shona, Zezuru refers to ‘highlands’, ‘pauzuru’ means ‘pamusoro’.
The people living on the high veld, a geographical feature, were turned into a tribe.
The people living in the land of deep valleys and high lands, geographically described in the Shona language as ‘manhika’, became a new tribe, Manyika.
Up north and north east, the residents in the country of rain clouds, ‘makore’, became a new tribe, ‘Korekore’.
In the south, where the centre of gravity was drawn by Great Zimbabwe and other monuments, the people were left with the name ‘Karanga’.
They became a new tribe.
Unfortunately, many Zimbabweans have accepted and internalised these deliberate colonial distortions of our ethnicity so much so that they proudly parade as ‘MaZezuru’, ‘MaKaranga’, ‘Manyika’ and ‘MaKorekore’.
Some of these groups even parade themselves as being superior to the other ‘tribes’.
The latter tendency threatens to tear our society apart as self-seeking individuals exploit these erroneous tribal tags to build little empires.
This has been the tragedy of most African countries.
How would you view someone who thinks only people belonging to this or that non-existent ‘tribe’ deserve to be the rulers of the country.
That sentiment runs contrary to our liberation war ethos where we never asked any of the thousands who joined the war where they came from.
Among the comrades, it did not matter where you came from or what colonial-designated ‘tribe’ you came from.
All that mattered was that you were a son of the soil committed to liberate our motherland.
If we had allowed the fake ethnicity imposed by white colonialists and their missionary allies, this country would still be Rhodesia.
And if we allow these fake ‘tribal’ identities to take root and guide our political choices, we shall reverse the gains of our independence. Both the living and the dead heroes would not forgive us.
Would we expect Murenga to rise again and inspire future generations now entrenched in western-created tribes of Manyika, MaKaranga, MaZezuru and MaKorekore to liberate us again?
Let us recognise and build on our true and united ethnic bases, not colonially-mandated divisive labels.
Someone has said you cannot blame the young who grow up with these wrong labels imprinted on their minds. We need education and deliberate, sustained initiatives to deprogramme ourselves and re-establish our true and historically-justified relationships.
The Mhofu clan, if we can call them that, are found in Marange and Buhera in Manicaland. They are ‘Manyika’ by the fake ethnic labelling.
Seke, muera Mhofu, the son of Marange (some say Nyashanu) is resident at the top of what the whites called ‘Zezuruland’, so he is ‘Zezuru’ by tribe? Mapanzure also from the Nyashanu Mhofu group is resident in Masvingo, so he is a ‘Karanga’ by tribe!
But MuHera uyu. Chiweshe and Hwata, Nyashanu’s sons, resident in the north have become ‘Korekore’ by the fake tribal identities.
The Ncubes of Matabeleland are the Sokos of Svosve near Marondera and all the other Sokos now labelled as different tribes Manyika, Karanga, Zezuru, Korekore by geographical location across Zimbabwe.
We must, as a nation, rectify these dangerous anomalies.
We must emphasise and embrace the things that unite us.
Unity is strength.
Our Western detractors continue, unsuccessfully, to divide the ‘Shona’ and ‘Ndebele’ in Matabeleland, forgetting that we are one people.
King Mzilikazi was an empire builder integrating different ethnic groups into what was called the Ndebele nation.
We can learn from his example.
We have a wide ethnic common denominator that must form the basis of our national unity.
Petty colonially-inspired differences must not be allowed to divide us.
I give the above examples to show that closely related people can and have been separated through colonially created ‘tribes’ that have no basis in reality.
We shall further explore this theme in the next episode in an effort to strengthen our national unity.


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