History of the Tonga People.

History of the Tonga People.

The exact origin of the Tonga people is still unclear, but what is certain is that they are one of the earliest settlers in modern-day Zambia. The Tonga are one of the Southern African Tribes found in more than one country and they reside specifically in both the southern part of Zambia and the north-western part of Zimbabwe.

Before the formation of Lake Kariba, their home was the almost inaccessible middle Zambezi Valley between the rugged Batoka Gorge below Victoria Falls and the confluence of the Umniati and Zambezi, some 200 miles downstream.
Unlike other ethnic groups in Southern Africa, the Tonga people did not have a centralized social structure and for this reason, they are defined as a “stateless society”. However, some members of the society could acquire some degree of authority.
Another difference from the other ethnic groups is the size of their settlements, which are smaller and comprise almost exclusively of family members. It seems that the lack of a large-scale central organization rendered the Tonga easy prey to more powerful neighbors, meaning that they suffered repeated raids for cattle and captives from armies by the Ndebele and Lozi-speaking people.

The Tonga people’s main economic activity is agriculture and cattle husbandry. Although cattle herding was considered exclusively a male activity, men and women could own cattle. Fishing and hunting activities, which required specialized knowledge, were also practiced within the Tonga society.
Lisha Katos reports that The Lwiindi Gonde traditional ceremony is the main Tonga ceremony and is held in the South West of Monze town on the last Sunday of June.
On this special occasion, the Tonga community celebrates the first harvest of the year expressing their gratitude by playing instruments, dancing and praying all together. It is important to underline that the term “Gonde” means thick bush and this is the place where the shrines of the Tonga people are and usually the community thanks also their ancestors in this ceremony.
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