Information about Thonga. What is Thonga.
THONGA, tong’ga, a people of southern Africa living primarily in southern Mozambique. Numbering about 1.5 million, they constitute Mozambique s second-largest ethnic group. They are also called Bathonga and Shangana-Tonga.
The Thonga are Negroid in physical appearance. Their language is classified as a major subdivision of the Bantu group of the Niger-Congo family. Many Thonga are Christians.
Agriculture and cattle-raising provide the basis of the Thonga economy. The largest part of the people’s income comes from their labor in the mines of South Africa, where 40% of the men work during part of their lifetime.
Little is known of the origins or early history of the Thonga. During the 19th century their homeland was invaded by Nguni-speaking peoples who had migrated from South Africa to escape the spreading power of the Zulu. Soshangane, leader of one of the Nguni groups, conquered the Thonga and established the Gaza empire over them. In 1891 the Thonga came under Portuguese rule.