Venda - South African Language Venda

/ Venda, also known as Luvenda or Tshivenda originated from the Bantu language
South African Languages

Venda (Luvenda / Tshivenda) Language

Photograph courtesy of and © Thiofhi Ravele
Photograph courtesy of and © Thiofhi Ravele

Venda is also known as Luvenda or Tshivenda, and originated from the Bantu language. Interestingly, it is also related to Niger and Congo languages. It is one of the 11 official South African languages.

Well over 650 000 of Tshivenda speakers live in the northern parts of South Africa’s Limpopo Province. Those that speak Tshivenda have a royal family line, and adhere to strict traditions that relate to this connection.

For example, if the son of a Venda family wants to become a chief or king, his mother must be eligible. If she is not, he stands no chance of reaching his goal. Mothers are required to be part of the royal family, and this ensures that children have royal blood. The Tshivenda culture allows a sister and a brother from different mothers to marry. This is another promise that only royal blood will take the throne.

The people of Tshivenda are known for their great respect of women, who are treated well within the culture. Because of this, women are allowed to become queens and chiefs of their tribes. Followers show the Tshivenda women the same great respect that they would show to the men.

Photograph courtesy of and © Thiofhi Ravele
Photograph courtesy of and © Thiofhi Ravele
In the Tshivenda tradition, a Khoro takes place every Sunday. This is a Tshivenda Tribal Council. Here, chiefs and senior citizens get together and discuss matter concerning the community. The Tshivenda people are very proud of their traditions and re-introduce their standards and morals to every new generation to ensure that they do not become diluted.

Music is one of the most important components of the life of a Tshivenda. They have music for every major life event – worship, sadness, joy, work and grieving. Drum beats accompany most of their music, and exceptions are made for songs, which are usually murmured. Drums are extremely important for the Tshivenda people, infusing their music with a strong sense of symbolism. The Tshivenda folk dance to the beat of the drums to symbolise the changes that they undergo through the courses of their lives, for example.

The traditional cooking is another major part of their culture. The traditional meal is Tshidzimba, which is a mixture of groundnuts, beans and mielie (or corn) grains. Summer is the time in which the Tshivenda people plant seeds. This is also known to be the most work-intensive time. After a day spent sowing, caring for cattle, reaping crops, etc... music and dancing are the ideal ways to relax.

Note: Special thanks to Thiofhi Ravele for his contribution to ensuring this information is correct and especially for the use of photographs from his personal collection.

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The Venda Language and Culture
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