Venda – A Grand Language and Culture

Known as Venda or Luvenda, Tshivenda is a Bantu language and relates to the Niger-Congo languages. The majority of Venda speakers live in South Africa, where it is an official language. In South Africa, the approximately 670,000 Tshivenda speakers, are scattered across the Northern part of the Limpopo Province.

Tshivenda speakers have their own Royal Family and traditions relating to this. A man’s mother has to be eligible in order for him to take the throne once the current King or Chief passes away. Mothers of heirs to the throne must be from the Royal Family to ensure that each heir has royal blood. In Tshivenda culture, it is not frowned upon for a brother and sister, with the same father but different mothers, to marry. This ensures that only true royal blood takes the throne.

Tshivenda people have great respect for women, which is why their culture allows women to become royal leaders. Followers show women the same respect that they would to their male counterparts.

True to Tshivenda tradition, every Sunday a khoro is held. This is a form of Tribal Council, where all senior citizens and chiefs get together to discuss community issues. Tshivenda speakers are proud of their traditions and instill their morals and standards on each new generation.

Music plays a significant role in the Tshivenda persons’ life. Therefore, they have songs for joy, sadness, entertainment, work and worship. Most of their songs are accompanied by rhythmic drum beats, with the exception of the working songs, which are sung in a murmur. Drums could for all intents and purposes, be the symbol of the Tshivenda people, as dancing to the beat of a drum marks the different transitions through their lives.

Traditional cooking to the Tshivenda speaker is “tshidzimba” (a mixture of mealie grains, beans and groundnuts). Summer is a season for planting seeds, and working on the land. But you can be rest assured, that after a hard day in the fields, the day will be ending with a few drinks, music and dancing. So if you celebrate life, you might have a lot more in common with the Tshivenda people than you may think.

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