The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(or Tsonga), a people living in Mozambique south of the Sabi River and in the adjacent regions of the Republic of South Africa and Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). They number more than 3.2 million (1975, estimate). Their language belongs to the southeastern group of the Bantu language family. Some Thonga, called the Shangaan-Thonga or Hlanganu, are descendants of Zulus who came from Natal in the first half of the 19th century. Most of the Thonga have retained their traditional beliefs, such as cults of the forces of nature and ancestor cults, but about one-third of them are Catholics. The primary occupation of the Thonga is the farming of millet and soybeans. Many Thonga work in the industrial regions of the Republic of South Africa and Zambia.



a southeastern Bantu language group that includes the closely related Ronga, Tonga, and Tiva languages.

The Thonga languages are spoken in Mozambique and the adjoining regions of the Republic of South Africa and Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) by more than 3.2 million people (1975, estimate). Their phonological features include open-closed opposition of two of the seven vowels ([e] and [o]). Notable among the consonants are the alveolar fricatives voiceless hl and voiced dl, and the alveolar affricate tl. Almost all consonants have aspirated variants. There is a tendency toward nasalization and aspiration of consonants at morpheme boundaries. Grammatical features include a system of 15 agreement classes, including classes la and 2a, which group together proper nouns, terms of relationship, and the names of totemic animals. Locative classes are absent. The verb is conjugated by means of infixes, prefixes, and suffixes. There are a large number of ideophones. The syntagmatic word order is subject-predicate-object. Attributes follow dependent words.


Hopgood, C. R. A Practical Introduction to Tonga. London, 1953.
Doke, C. M. The Southern Bantu Languages. London, 1967.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
such a magical beach getaway exists in the shape of Thonga Beach Lodge, set above a private, sandy beach and nestled into a magnificent coastal dune forest on the pristine shores of the Maputuland coast, KwaZulu-Natal.
Thonga Beach Lodge, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa
Labour Emigration Among the Mocambique Thonga: Cultural and Political Factors, Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, v.
Our tour would include stays in Thonga Beach Lodge, Mkuze Falls Safari Lodge and then a hop over to Mpumalanga province for two nights at Thornybush Game Lodge.
His major study, in French, of the Baronga clan of the Thonga people, Les Ba-Ronga, had been published in 1898, and he was now hard at work on preparing a two-volume English-language edition.
In an ambitious history of local politics and heritage tourism in Kosi Bay, Dingani Mthethwa describes how the area's residents initially accepted the Zulu tourism industry in the 1990s despite the fact that many of the so-called Zulu inhabitants of the area considered themselves Thonga subjects of Maputaland and profess loyalty to competing Thonga clans rather than a Zulu nation.
He focuses on the interaction between the Swiss missionaries and the people who, at least partly under their influence, came to see themselves as members of the Thonga ethnic group; and on how a small group of European intellectuals portrayed Africa and in the process constructed an African voice.