Top 6 Things You Might’ve Heard About Tsonga People

The South African country is known for its diverse cultures, languages and ethnic groups. This is one of the reasons the South African citizens are interested in knowing about each other and sometimes stereotyping one another.

If anyone is to tell you that they have never heard anything about another ethnic group, it’s a lie! It’s very simple, the unknown is always fascinating and as far as stereotypes are concerned; it arouses more interest. Stereotypes are defined as a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image of a particular type of person or thing, basically a label. Stereotypes may be good or bad and true or false. As Tsonga people, we have probably heard tons of bad stereotypes about us. For instance, in 2013 Goitsemang Maroga wrote in an article published on that she heard we have many children to a point where we have been labelled as careless and dirty as a result. This is a bad and false stereotype because any person from any other ethnic group or race can also have many children if they want! However, we couldn’t help but wonder what other things are we known for, be it good or bad. Below is what we found:

  1. Machangana/Mashangaan Bag – This is a hard-plastic bag used as a luggage or shopper bag by some people. It is called Ghana Must Go in Nigeria, Bangladeshi bag in the United Kingdom, Chinatown Tote in New York, Guyanese samsonite in the Carribean and Machangana/Mashangaan bag in South Africa. Other names that are also used in South Africa are Khumbulekhaya bag, China bag, Zimbabwe bag and Umaskhenkethe. These names are coined to degrade and discriminate other races or ethnic groups in most cases. However, lately fashion designers such as Cape Town based David Chuene have used this material to push conventional modes in fashion. Besides, this bag is very strong and spacious, who wouldn’t use it?
  2. Bright Colours – This is one that makes us very proud to be Tsonga. Our colourful regalia has made us stand out from the rest of the South African crowd for a very long time. We are not scared to wear multi-coloured and also strikingly bright clothes in just one attire, hence when the latest fashion trends made a frenzy about colour blocking we thought…“we’ve been having it!”
  3. Men Have Big Private Parts – This is a myth. There is no tree that grows at the back of the house enabling a young male’s genitals to grow bigger and longer. Our advice – don’t date a Tsonga man because of this stereotype, you may get disappointed and be miserable for a while. Anyway, does size really matter? Chuckles!
  4. Our Favourite Drink: Fanta Orange – True story. Hlulani Masingi, Shangazine Editor once ordered food at Steers at the King Shaka International Airport in Durban. She ordered a combo meal and when asked which drink she would like to have, she said “I’m Tsonga,” they reached for a bottle of Fanta Orange and everyone laughed. The love we have for bright colours seem to stretch to the food we eat. Strawberry jam also falls into this category. Yum!
  5. Top Achievers – Think of prominent and high profile people such as Tito Mboweni (Former Governor of the South African Reserve Bank), Dr. Tiny Mhinga (Surgeon and Yvonne Chaka Chaka’s husband), Floyd Shivambu (Economic Freedom Fighter or EFF Political Member of Parliament), Penny Penny (Musician), Mbhazima Shilowa (Former Gauteng Premier and Politician), Dr. Thomas Chauke (Musician), DJ Ganyani (Musician), Sho Madjozi (Musician), Musa Nkuna (Opera Singer), Given Mkhari (Radio Mogul), Fumani Shilubana (Actor), George Gladwin (Marvin), Prof. Cynthia Marivate (former CEO of Pan South African Language Board)…need we say more?
  6. Multilingual – Trust us, if no one took no interest in learning or understanding your language, you would try and learn other people’s languages in order to get by in life. Some of the reasons for this may be that the language has been regarded as “kwere-kwere” because of its Latin alphabet that sounds foreign, that it is spoken by the minority so the speakers of majority languages would hardly take interest in learning it and, it is a very difficult language to learn. Therefore, Tsonga speaker end up being the ones learning and because of this, we are able to communicate in almost all the 11 South African languages. How dope?

Do you know of stereotypes/labels/anything associated with Tsonga people? Share with us on Twitter and Facebook using the #TsongaStereoypes Hashtag and tag @shangazine handle.

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1 Comment

  1. People are very stereotypical, in a way that may label others as bad. In my article I didn’t mean to portray or stereotype Shangan’ (tsonga’) in a bad way.

    However, your article is nice and yes, Shangan’ have a flex tongue.

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