The earliest known people of Rhodesia were the Bushmen and are now almost extinct. They were of aboriginal descent. The next group of people to settle in what was to become Rhodesia, were Early Iron Age people and they were followed by the Karanga who originally come from Tanzania in Central Africa and had moved southwards. These people started their move southwards in the eleventh century. In the next five centuries after the Karanga arrived, the Korekore, Zezuru and the Tonga people arrived. As time passed the tribal groupings consolidated and the king of the Karanga ruled the area between the Limpopo River and the Zambezi River and even further afield. The Venda people arrived in the 1700s and settled in the Limpopo River valley. A further influence on the people was the raids from the Nguni people from Natal into the Rozwi (Karanga) kingdom. The Shangana people invaded and settled in the Chimanimani Mountains in the 1800s. The Ndebele people also arrived during this time.
There are some similarities between the Swahili and Shona languages. The grammar and some words are very similar and yet other words are identical. This is part of the inheritance of the southward moving people of the early times of the country.
The people of Rhodesia comprised many groupings based on tribal and language affiliation. Many or the tribes overlapped and it was sometimes difficult to determine exact boundaries. Some smaller groups lived in the districts of larger groups of people. The following list indicates the larger grouping of people with their sub groupings.
Hlengwe. Also known as the Lenge. This group live in the area of Nuanetsi, Triangle, Sabi, Chibi and Zaka.
Kalanga. This grouping lived in the area of Wankie, Plumtree, and along the western border with Botswana. Their sub groupings consist of the following:
Nyanzva / Nyanzwa people who live in the Wankie District.
Nyai people who live in the Gwai area.
Nyubi people who live in the Matopo Hills and south of the Matopos.
Shangwe people who are a mix of Kalanga and Tonga and live in the area of Gokwe, Bumi Hills and the Copper Queen area.
Karanga. This group live in the area of Fort Victoria and Gwanda. Their sub groupings are:
Duma people who live near Lake Kyle.
Gova / Gowa people who are from Gwelo, Selukwe and are related to the Korekore.
Govera people from Chatsworth
Mari people from Shabani.
Mhanzi people from Chilimanzi, Mtao Forest and Umvuma.
Korekore. This group come from the area north of Salisbury and the north west and north east of Rhodesia. Their sub groups comprise:
Budya / Budjga people of Mtoko.
Gova / Gowa people who are from Sipolilo, Karoi and Chirundu.
Nyongwe people from Mount Darwin.
Pfungwe people from Mount Darwin and Mtoko.
Tande people from the northern parts of Sipolilo.
Manyika. This group of people are from the Eastern Districts of the country. Their sub groupings are as follows:
Boca / Bocha people from Odzi and Middle Sabi.
Bunji people from the east of Inyanga.
Garwe people from Hot Springs.
Guta people from Penhalonga and the upper Odzi River area.
Hera people from Buhera and Enkeldoorn areas.
Hungwe or Makoni people from Rusape area.
Jindwe people from the Vumba Mountains.
Karombe people from Inyanga North area.
Njanja people from the Charter area.
Nyamuka people from Juliasdale.
Unyama people from the Headlands area.
Ndau. The Ndau people come from the Chimanimani Mountain area and from Melsetta. This grouping of people also live on the Mozambique side of the border.
Matabele People. This group of people come from the Bulawayo, Inyati and Gwanda areas.
Rozvi / Rozwi. This group of people come from the areas of Khami Dam, Bikita, and several other pockets in other areas.
Shangana. This group of people come from the Chimanimani Mountains area and Melsetter District.
Tangwena. This grouping is from the Wanewa tribe from Mozambique and are not strictly Rhodesian per se.
Tonga. This group comes from the Zambezi Valley, Lake Kariba and the Ruenya River Valley which stretches into the Mtoko District. Their sub grouping is the Tawara who live in the Mvura Donha Mountains down towards the Zambezi Valley.
Venda. The Venda grouping live in the vicinity of Beit Bridge along the Limpopo River and in the West Nicholson area. There are many Venda also living in the northern most part of South Africa along the same river. They do not consider the Limpopo River as an international boundary.
Waremba. Also known as the Lemba people. This grouping of people live in the areas of Belingwe and the Nuanetsi River.
Zezuru. This grouping of people come from the larger area around Salisbury and to the south, south west and south east of Salisbury. There are several sub groupings which are as follows:
Gova / Gowa people who are from Umvukwes.
Harava people from Beatrice.
Mbire people from Wedza and Marandellas areas.
Nhohwe people from Macheke area.
Shawasba people from Mazoe and Shamva areas.
Bushmen. This grouping of people are from the Wankie District and are also resident in South Africa, Namibia and Angola.
Source: Encyclopaedia Rhodesia
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