being an ethnic minority has led the above mentioned groups to be victims of cultural marginalization

April 21, 2019 0 Comment

being an ethnic minority has led the above mentioned groups to be victims of cultural marginalization. Their languages which is one of the epitomes of their cultures has not been accommodated fully into the country’s policies namely the education sector and the media. This marginalization of ethnic minorities or the failure to recognise their culture has hampered development. It has prevented them to participate fully in development and this has had an effect on the development. Wahab et al (2012) the culture of a people is their identity as it affords them due recognition. It is their underlying distinguishing factor from other groups . He further points out that in order for a group to operate functionally they must ensure and maintain strict and consistent and constant adherence to the various components of their culture. This shows that culture binds the day to day lives of communities hence when it is eroded it results in a loss of identity and recognition. The absence of recognition in turn leads to the marginalisation and exclusion of the entire group.

Cokley et al (2013) notes that marginalization and exclusion have been found to lower the self-esteem, effort, and performance of individuals in the groups discriminated against. This reduces their potential for individual growth and their ability to participate and contribute in the developmental process. Minority Rights Group International (2008) notes that the participation of ethnic minorities in Zimbabwe is very low. This is exemplified by the fact even in regions that are inhabited by ethnic by ethnic employment opportunities namely in the civil service are taken by the Shona who are the majority. The organisation posits that even in Bulawayo which is considered to be the hub of the Ndebele the population of the national majority which is the Shona disproportionately high. This shows that ethnic identity has influenced development in Zimbabwe thus it is a developmental challenge for the ethnic minorities.
Ethnologue (2001) Tonga are the third largest ethnic group in Zimbabwe and the largest of the ones referred to as ethnic minorities. Historically they lived on both sides of the Zambezi River. Unlike other pre-colonial states the Tonga were a matrilineal society and had a decentralised system of government. Tremel (2004) they lived in fair isolation even during the colonial period. The Tonga chose to live a very traditional way of life. They had a great attachment with the Zambezi River. It was their source of livelihood. They practised stream bank agriculture, livestock rearing, hunting and fishing .The river was also of spiritual and religious value to them as it was home to their river god the Nyaminyami. Since they were not integrated into the colonial administration the Tonga traditional system to a larger extent remained intact. This showed they were greatly attached to their traditional culture.
However in the mid-1950s when the Kariba dam was constructed the lives of the Tonga changed drastically. They were forced to move from their ancestral lands. They were forced to move further upland thus splitting with their relatives on the other side of the river .PANOS (2005) after the sudden displacement and relocation the Tonga were exposed to a new way of life with a new way of life with new religious systems, new health system and new educational system. This was the beginning of a greater interaction between the Tonga and other ethnic groups in the then southern Rhodesia where they assumed the status of being an ethnic minority. This process had a lot of impacts on the Tonga social fabric. Their social, political and economic way of life changed drastically as they had to content with the new environment which came with a lot of changes to the life they were used to.
The socio economic decline amongst the Tonga can be traced to their historical experience. This was the process of displacement and relocation as a result of the construction of the Kariba dam. The process was so abrupt and was a sudden change in the environment in which the Tonga had been accustomed to without any shock therapy being administered. It was a change which highly affected their endogenous development. Tremel (2004) the River Tonga have often described their life near the river before being removed to make way for Kariba dam as a time of splendid isolation this description needs to be understood in its historical context. This might have referred to the tranquil environment and in this sense the BaTonga were satisfied in it. With the exception of some men who went for work in the mines or in towns, the River Tonga were basically isolated from the rest of the people of Southern Rhodesia and lived a very traditional way of life. Being isolated had advantages such as being free to hunt without being controlled by colonialist policies. They took advantage of fertile gardens and fields along the banks of the Zambezi, and also enjoyed a variety of ways to catch fish for relish. They had their own leaders and life was governed primarily through their traditional administrative systems. The relative absence of government involvement left them free to practise their culture, keep their traditions alive and also to exploit the natural resources within their vicinity.
The Tonga were victims of a development induced displacement as they were to relocate to pave way for a developmental project and such displacement have common effects . PANOS (2005) the resettlement process had effects which included the loss of physical and non-physical assets such as homes, productive land, subsistence, resources, cultural sites, social structures, networks and ties, cultural identity and mutual help mechanisms. He further notes that investigations into displacement have found a number of other potential risks that deeply threaten sustainability; these included homelessness, marginalization, food insecurity, loss of common lands and resources, increased health risks, social disarticulation, and the loss of civil and human rights.
The displacement and relocation had adverse and impoverishing effects on the BaTonga. The process of displacement and relocation was carried without great consideration of the possible effects of its aftermath. It was evident that the new environment had a totally different way of life which affected their social development as it gave them a huge burden to adapt. It is in this new environment where they assumed the status of being an ethnic minority and having such status had its implications in the treatment that the BaTonga were going to receive. This status of being an ethnic minority had long term effects on the development of the Tonga. Generally most of the challenges they faced in the post resettlement period can be attributed to this notion of being an ethnic minority. As highlighted in the introductory chapter ethnic minorities usually face challenges like marginalisation, stereotyping, and exclusion the Tonga have had to grapple with these challenges since they assumed the status of being one of southern Rhodesia’s ethnic minorities. The socio cultural well-being of the Tonga was adversely affected by this forced displacement and also affected their livelihood means
The process of displacement and relocation came with it family disintegration because some of the BaTonga were relocated to different areas from some of their close relations who lived across the Zambezi. This also resulted in the disruption of life sustaining social networks that would have been providing mutual support and livelihood means. This entails that forced displacement destroyed the Tonga people’s social networks which usually acted as social safety nets in providing social security to local people in times of uncertainties such as drought, hunger and death. These social networks ranged from extended family members, traditional religion and its leaders, friends and village neighbours who might have lived on either side of the river. Their significance was undermined due to the displacement or rather separation from their kith and keen.
It was also observed that the relocation program at Kariba was done randomly since some people were not moved as collectives such that there might be extended family breakdowns which were acting as social safety nets to various members. Therefore, forced relocation tore apart the existing social fabric, leading to socio-cultural disarticulation. Traditional management systems or indigenous knowledge systems which are essential to development to some extent also lost their leadership as a result of forced relocation. This resulted in a situation where by the Tonga lost the real custodians of their traditional culture thus leaving the younger generations without anyone to impart the cultural knowledge. The displacement and relocation also destroyed some traditional leadership. People from Zambezi valley were relocated to places which in some instances encroached in other chiefdoms boundaries and this often put the BaTonga into conflict with each other. In some they were randomly displaced such that they now no longer reside as groups or as collectives who can fall under one traditional authority. Traditional authorities have experience some form of social discontinuity and a decline in their influence as a result of displacement of it communities to pave way for the construct he Kariba dam. In the new environment their powers have been made less significance by the colonial administration. The above experience shows how the Tonga have been underdeveloped as an ethnic minority group
The relocation programme was also criticized by for failing to take into consideration the cultural norms and values of the Tonga. In most African societies people value the graves of their ancestors and they believe that all the good luck comes from the ancestors hence should stay close to their graves. Thomson (2005) the Tonga complained that the programme excluded their cultural values and made the graves and shrines valueless yet they were an integral part of Tonga culture. The moved individuals complained about the history of their families being distorted as a result of the fact that their children will be distanced from their ancestors. Therefore, there was a clash of cultural paradigms and no clear interface situations after the resettlement program since the Tonga people’s cultures, values and beliefs were side lined in the project.

Marginalisation and Exclusion
The Tonga people have been victims of marginalisation and exclusion. It is an established fact that out of the 55 districts in Zimbabwe Binga has been the most neglected by past colonial administrators. In almost every sphere of development Binga district has been overlooked and has always been placed at the tail end where developmental priorities are concerned. As a result of this the district has been lacking in all the essential public services such as health, education, communication and agricultural development. Mashingaidze (2013) due to lack of progress Binga has been forced to almost entirely depend on aid from various non-governmental institutions which is appreciated, but is far from being sufficient to fulfil her development requirements. Due to its distinct ethnic composition Binga appears to have missed out on the massive development programs implemented in the early years of independence by the government and NGOs. In most parts of this remote district, social services such as health and education are either inadequate or simply not there. The colonial administration simply neglected Binga district and its citizens. This trend also continued in the post-independence era. During the first two decades there has been hardly any evidence that the black majority government paid better attention than the previous regime to this remote area since the underdevelopment trend has continued.
Moreover due to their marginal influence in the power relations in Zimbabwe as well as resource distribution networks the Tonga failed to access the electricity and waters of Kariba Dam as well as the wild animal resources in the safaris and national game parks abutting their new villages. Mashingaidze (2013) points out that in the colonial period Europeans monopolised the exploitation of the fishery and tourism businesses around the Kariba dam as well as the safari hunting operations in the uplands. With the attainment of the country’s independence in 1980 well connected Ndebele and Shona peoples gradually substituted Europeans as the major beneficiaries in the exploitation of Zambezi Valley’s natural wealth. This marginalisation has led to under development in Binga district which is the area where most of the Tonga minority resides. Marginalisation has also induced dependence amongst the Tonga as they heavily relied on aid. From the above account it is evident that marginalisation has presented the Tonga with developmental challenges which emanate from resource alienation, cultural stagnantation, lack of participation and narrowing of opportunities

Cultural Dilution and Erosion
Cultural dilution is whereby two or more cultures mix and interweave resulting in the in erosion of one of them. After their displacement and relocation the Tonga were exposed to various cultures and this adversely affected their culture and identity. People from their other ethnic groups namely the Shona and Ndebele came into the newly established Binga district in search of opportunities since the Tonga legged behind in terms of integration into the colonial system most of the employment opportunities within their vicinity were taken by other ethnic groups and it should be noted that this trend has continued even after independence .Moreover the process which came along with the process of resettlement like the registration process exposed the Tonga to cultural dilution. Headman Dhobola alluded to the impacts of the registration process saying that it was carried out by people who had very little knowledge and understanding of Tonga language and culture. The registration officers who in most cases were either Shona or Ndebele tended to give the Tonga Shona and Ndebele names based on their totems. For example those who had the elephant as their totem were given the named Ndlovu
This intrusion of other cultures in ethnic minority populated areas aided by the absence of policies which guaranteed the survival of their cultures greatly compromised its survival. Isaac Kufandiko concurs with this notion. He points out that the ethnic minorities like the Tonga are usually culturally rich groups but they became a melting pot because of other ethnic groups. This shows that the penetration of other cultures into ethnic minority areas affected its value amongst its own custodians.
According to Mungombe the survival of minority cultures has constantly been under threat due to the fact that most of them now tend to value the culture they inherited. Even in Zambia where Tonga is taught up to university level. Generally most of the BaTonga fear that their language is giving way to other languages. It is general feeling that Tonga should be taught to a higher level in their schools as well as to be officially recognised education in schools and even churches, to teach young people Tonga. Most of the Tonga feel that the decline of their language directly to westernisation and resettlement. However some of them blame the decline in Tonga on the lack of government initiatives to preserve and promote it.


This chapter has managed to give an overview of the developmental situation of ethnic minorities in Zimbabwe. It has highlighted the plight of ethnic minorities such as marginalisation and exclusion. It has also brought up the characteristics amongst ethnic minorities in Zimbabwe. This chapter has explored the factors behind the socio, economic and political development status among the Tonga who are the focus group of the study which emanated from the colonial period and stretched to the post-independence era. Underdevelopment amongst the Tonga or generally in their area of inhabitancy that is Binga has been characterised by the absence of the basic indicators of development which are access to health and education ;access to information ; lack of participation ; resource alienation ;cultural erosion as well as the absence of livelihood means Socio economic decline and underdevelopment amongst the BaTonga has been largely attributed to their displacement and relocation from the Zambezi valley. This can be deemed a long term cause of the decline as other factors largely emanated from this. The resettlement process led to a sudden change in the socio cultural and economic environment of the Tonga and this adversely affected their development. The resettlement process plunged them into a state of being an ethnic minority and this had implications on their well-being as they were exposed to marginalisation and exclusion. This marginalisation and exclusion presented the Tonga with many developmental challenges which have hampered their development which include cultural erosion, resource alienation, lack of participation and narrowing of opportunities.

This chapter will focus on the interventions made by the government of Zimbabwe to promote or to solve the developmental issues concerning ethnic minorities. It will focus on the policy interventions as well as programmes meant to solve the problems faced by ethnic minorities. The chapter will be largely focused on the developmental interventions initiated for the Tonga in Binga district. Government interventions are largely in the context of policies and projects aimed at solving the developmental problems faced by the Tonga. The chapter will focus on these government interventions and their impacts in addressing the developmental issues concerning the Tonga. The assessment or analysis was based on the grounds that the success of these developmental initiatives have to meet the human developmental needs of the Tonga.
The general assessment is that the state has largely played a complementary role in the promotion of development amongst the Tonga. Its approach has been characterised by different phases in which the state used different approaches in trying to promote and influence the development of the Tonga.
The Lusumpuko Plan of 1981
Significant efforts to bring about development amongst the Tonga started in the early years after independence. This, period was characterised by a great deal of planning namely by the state’s administrative arm in the area that is the Binga Rural District Council. Mashingaidze (2013) it was an issue highly politicised due to the fact that the two political parties sought to gain political support through the exploitation of Tonga grievances. It started with individuals like Muntanga and Mungombwe who were Binga Rural District Council officials in the early