Nkomo a naturalised Kalanga: History expert


RENOWNED historian Phathisa Nyathi yesterday confirmed that the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo became Kalanga by naturalisation and settlement in Zimbabwe although his family was originally of Sotho descent from South Africa.


The disclosures came after the State media launched vicious attacks on NewsDay accusing the daily publication of falsely claiming that Nkomo was Kalanga. Nyathi added that some Nkomo families in the region were originally Kalanga.

The Kalanga issue has caused a tribal storm since last week when President Robert Mugabe labelled Kalangas in Matabeleland South Province as “uneducated” and criminals who illegally crossed into South Africa where they committed various crimes.

Mugabe’s remarks jolted some opposition parties and civil society groups from the region to demand a public apology from the Zanu PF leader and exhumation of all Kalanga national heroes buried at the Heroes’ Acre in Harare, among them Nkomo, Jason Ziyaphapha Moyo and George Silunduka.

They also challenged serving Cabinet ministers of Kalanga descent such as Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo to resign in protest against the jibe. “Yes, there are some Nkomos who are Kalanga, but about Joshua they are Sothos,” Nyathi said.

“They might have become Kalangas because of settlement and naturalisation. Originally, I do not think they are Kalangas. It is like we have the Nyathi people who are originally Sotho but they settled in the Kalanga-dominated area and they got identified with the Kalangas.”

Nyathi said the Nkomo family was naturalised into Kalanga by the fact of growing among Kalangas and their friends were the Bangos who were known Kalangas.

“When these people got into Zimbabwe before colonisation they went through the Caprive Strip of Namibia into Matabeleland South. They are the Kololos who in Ndebele we call Gololos and were led by Sibatwani whom in Ndebele we call Sibindwani. They came from South Africa and settled in Zimbabwe during the 1820s ahead of Mzilikazi.” He said they later settled at Samthonga or Mwazinini now Emganwini in Bulawayo where there was Chief Mtolobi Mlilo.

“They were then displaced by the whites to settle at Tjimali. They moved to Mbembeswana close to Simukwe River in Matabeleland South (Matobo) before they moved to Chief Bidi’s area just because Nyongolo, the forefather of the Nkomos, was the dip attendant.”

But political commentator Methuseli Moyo said whether Nkomo was Kalanga or Sotho, the issue still remains that Mugabe publicly insulted Kalangas without provocation and should apologise to the offended tribe.

“Even if Nkomo was not Kalanga, he would never have insulted them or any other ethnic group,” Moyo said.

“Newspapers that omitted Mugabe’s offending comments but are now busy trying to dress them up and diverting attention are losing the plot because everyone is now a journalist, thanks to technology and social media. If Mugabe’s comments were proper, why did they censor them? The government media actually pleaded guilty on Mugabe’s behalf. Mugabe said what he said, full stop.”


  1. Why are people surprised by President Mugabe’s undiplomatic comments. he has said such utterances before like these ones:

    2014 – Implied that Nigerians were the most corrupt society in the world.

    “2014 – Europe has an ‘evil heart’ – after the EU refused Grace Mugabe a visa to attend EU-Africa Summit held in Brussels.

    2012 – Jamaican men are ‘drunkards who are perennially hooked on Marijuana.’

    2001 – ‘Strike fear into the heart of the white man our real enemy, make him tremble.’

    2000 – Mbare urban dwellers are ‘totem-less people.’ (Mbare is a suburb in Harare)

    2000 – British government was led by ‘gay gangsters.’

    1995 – During the Zimbabwe Book Fair, the gay community was ‘worse than dogs and pigs’.

    1992 – White commercial farmers were so ‘hard hearted you would think they were Jews.’”

    extracted from a book chapter by Dodo (2015)

  2. Dear Newday

    Can you just admit that you and your team erred as you did not research the origins of Nkomo before you published the article. This is highly embarrassing for a paper of this size, that articles are printed without confirmed evidence. Please note that for the record, there is no such thing as a Naturalised Kalanga/ Zezuru/ Karanga etc, either you are or you are not. it will be fair to the reader for you to admit where a mistake has been aid without justifications.

    Please may you stop causing tribal divisions by making a storm in a tea cup. The President may have erred in his remarks and i am sure in time, the clarification/apology will come. he maybe many things but stupid is not one of them so forgive our President. We have just about had enough of this Kalanga story. The demonstrations you want it to cause will not come.

    No Zanu PF member will resign from Government in protest as per your suggestion as unlike their MDC counterparts, they know where their bread is buttered, and to exhume comrades buried at Heroes Acre is short sightedness at it’s best. This will not be a wise move.

    • Please note that ‘for the record’ there does exist a term such as ‘Zimbabwean by Naturalisation’, and therefore by extension there can be natrulisation into any other group of peoples.

      You say ‘the President MAY have erred’… but of course he DID err – BIG TIME. You also say ‘..forgive him’. Really?? But he hasn’t even apologised or sought the forgiveness!

      You also say that ‘No Zanu-PF member will resign…..(as) they know where their bread is buttered’!! How very true of the spineless lot singing and dancing for their supper regardless of any principles. 30 pieces of silver are more precious to them than honour.

  3. The Herald and Jonathan Moyo are experts at skinning a day old chick for the love of its pelt. They painstakingly take time and effort to defend the indefensible and their efforts do not bear any fruit. The tragedy is that they divert everyone’s attention and effort into their time consuming but useless propaganda escapades.

  4. In that case all Zimbabweans are naturalised kalangas, korekore, zezuru, karanga, tonga, venda you name it. At the end of the day we are all Zimbabwean..

  5. You are spot on Methuseli; whether Joshua Nkomo was Kalanga or not is neither here nor there, the fact still remains that Bob insulted the Kalanga people.

  6. J. M. Nkomo was a Kalanga of the Nsola clan, John Landa Nkomo was a Kalanga of the Nimwala clan. There are other Nkomos of the Gonde Clan, the other Nkomos are of the Ngulani clan. In BuKalanga, Thuma and Nkomo is the same thing.

    The historical truth is that at first the Nkomos and even the Nyathis were original Kalangas based in in present Limpopo Province, and became naturalized Sothos arround 16 century. Latter on arround 18 century they, because of migration they again become reconnected with their oringinal Kalangas roots.

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