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Bukalanga is the largest population group in Southern Africa

by Ndzimu-unami Emmanuel Moyo
18 February 2013 | 4591 Views
Over the last few weeks I penned articles in which I demonstrated that the Shona do not comprise over 80% of Zimbabwe's population as is usually claimed in the dominant narrative in Zimbabwe. Published on and, the article drew some of the 'angriest' comments from the Shona than any of my previous articles ever sparked. But it did not end there, I penned another article in which I propositioned that the Kalanga [incorporating Bakalanga, Banambya, and Vhavenda], make up about 75% percent of the population of Matebeleland. Similarly the article drew some of the most vitriolic attacks against me by some Ndebele, or Kalanga people who claim to be Ndebele.      
Some of the people accused me of relying on evidence collected by "Europeans ignorant of Africa customs, identity and history" (despite the fact that some of these same people will consider as gospel truth anything written by the same Europeans that supports their case). In answer to that charge today I want to present more evidence, not from the writings of Europeans (who generally got their history from remembered oral traditions of the past), but from people alive today, many of them Kalanga's in the Diaspora who were thrown all over Southern Africa through the migrations of the Nguni and other groups on their way down south and during the Mfecane Wars.

This evidence is presented in emails that I have received from people in Malawi, Zambia and South Africa, all claiming that though now carrying certain identities, they are originally a people of Bukalanga stock. It is on this basis (in the context of much of what we have said in previous articles) that I claim that indeed, a fair and detailed reading of Southern African history will show that the Kalanga, the builders of Maphungubgwe, Great Zimbabwe, and Kame [three of the four man-made Unesco World Heritage Sites in Southern Africa], are perhaps the largest population grouping in the region, if not only second to the Zulu.  

The first email is from Nkatha Bay in Malawi from a man who is a District Education Officer there. It reads:

I write [to] you from Malawi. I am Mzondi Moyo. I have read your articles on Bukalanga with interest. You are an amazing researcher, the type which would fill professors with envy. From my Totem you see that I am a Moyo. In fact I am Kalanga originally from your area. We were taken by the people under Zwangendawa and we are currently under Inkosi ya Makosi M'mbelwa. Zwangendawa preceded Mzilikazi of [the] Ndebele. To most people [in Malawi] Moyos are Ngoni, just like some people have mistaken you for the Ndebeles. In my country we have a lot of people who call themselves Kalanga, eg Tembo, Shumba/Hara, Shoko/Mafeni, Shaba, etc. A little more about myself. I am male working as a District Education Manager, responsible for education delivery in my district. Mzondi Wedson Jeremiya Moyo

This one here is from Barotseland in Zambia from the Kalanga offshoot in that area and it reads: 

Interesting piece on the Kalanga nation. There are three clans of Bakalanga in Western Zambia or Barotseland. These are the Mananzwa, Manyai and Mahumbe. As should be expected these people are now Lozi or Rotse by acculturation. Their mother tongue is now Silozi and not iKalanga. I am a descendant of an ironsmith by the name of Machambuzi. Our village is also called Machambuzi. We still carry our Kalanga names such as Mbulayi, Mbulawa, Mbano, Siyanda, Mukundu, Galilo, Mulapesi, Tubapi, Chibu, Kwati, Lumbidzani, etc. (Email received on June 15th, 2012).

This third one is from a friend in Polokwane, South Africa and it reads as follows:

Hi my chief. Here it goes. I am the fifth generation of Mabula Mabje who came down around Polokwane about 250 years ago. Our surname was Mabwe/Mabgwe, but is still meaning stones even now. Mabje came along with others like Chief Mongatane and they occupied a [piece of] land and called it Kgopeng and was ruled over by Chief Mongatane [This is the origin of the Kalanga surname Khupe]. In Khopeng there is a village known as Batswapong which is about 50 years old now [I have recorded in The Rebirth of Bukalanga that the Tswapong are of Kalanga stock]. We still call each other Bakgalaka (Sotho-Tswana for Bakalanga). According Chief Mongatane as he presented our history, during the Khopeng land claim in Pretoria High Court, which he attended several times, we are from Arabia and came through Egypt down to Kenya, etc until the vast majority settled in what [became] Bokgalaka and we proceeded here [in Polokwane]. He presented that [information] 7 years ago during my father's gravestone unveiling [which] is even in video.

Also from Polokwane is the following from Makono Mmakola Ke Tlhantlhagane also explaining a confusion that exists between the Bakone and AmaNguni. It reads:

Bokgalaka is our origin and we are proud about that. From where I come from the Nguni's are not part of Bakgalaka or Bokgalaka Empire. There is a difference between Bakoni and BaNguni. Bakoni we trace our migration directly from Bogkalaka but with the Nguni's such [origin] does not exist amongst them. Bakoni dominate the present Capricon District and part of Sekhukhune District [Limpopo Province]. We believe people confuse Koni and Nguni, these are not the same, the Koni are Matlala people from ga Matlala thaba in Polokwane.

Finally we have the following from the African National Congress (ANC) Chief Whip Professor Mathole Motshekga. He declared before the Gauteng Legislature in September 2007 during Heritage Day celebrations that:

I am a Molozwi-Mokhalaka also known as Molobedu. The Balovedu (also known as Balozwi) and Bavenda are an offshoot of Barozwi … who founded the Maphungubwe and Great Zimbabwe Civilizations. The name Balobedu means: the Recipients of Tributes while Balozwi means: sacred scientists who can make rain and control the forces of nature. The BaRozwi … are an offshoot of the Makalaka/Bakhalaka people of Naphta (now Kordofan in the Sudan, heartland of ancient Ethiopia) … the BaRozwi migrated to the Limpopo Valley where they established the Bokhalaka Empire with its Capital City of Maphungubwe which became both a spiritual and international trading centre of Central Africa (Mathole 2007, Online).

Conclusion - Indeed we the Kalanga are a Great Nation

It was stated by Dr Theodore Herzl in his Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State) in 1896 that the heritage of the Jews is so great that it is impossible for them to disappear from the earth as a "nation" or as a "people". Indeed, I also declare that the Kalanga are too great a "people" and a "nation" never to disappear from the face of the earth. Yes, Kalanga languages and identity has been one of the most assaulted under the sun, but we have remained to this day, and the 21st century will witness a great resurgence of the people that established the greatest civilization ever witnessed in Southern Africa - the Zimbabwe Civilization - a civilization only comparable to Egypt and Axum in Africa.

The Diaspora Community of Bukalanga shall yet know itself once more, and regain the consciousness of its identity long destroyed and violently subdued by other groups. That spirit that drove our ancestors to establish the greatest civilization Africa south of the Sahara shall yet seize us - and as the descendants of the builders of Maphungubgwe, Great Zimbabwe and Kame - we shall yet lead once more in Education, Government, Business and Science and Technology, and Africa and the world shall yet hear from us. History shall yet be re-written. These days are only the beginnings. And this time none shall stop in our way nor block our progress.

Bukalanga - Bakalanga, Banambya, Vhavenda - arise, seize the moment, take your rights, march unapologetically into the future, raise your head high and take a strident march with your back straight, apologize to no one for being who and what you are. Reclaim your identity and your languages, educate yourselves and your children, rebuild your identity and nation, be bold and proud, get hold of tomorrow, and let Africa once more hear from us.

Banhu Ndiswi. Ndaboka kwazwo makamu, Ndolivhuwesa ngamaanda!     

Ndzimu-unami Emmanuel Moyo is a Kalanga justice activist and writer of two books, The Rebirth of Bukalanga (download freely here and Zimbabwe: The Case for Federalism. He can be contacted on email at


All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.



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