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Nkayi, of all the places!

travelling & touring:with Burzil Dube


“Where is the bucketful of Tonga names, which yours truly threatened to unleash?” These were some of the numerous questions that flew around following interpretation of names to some places in Matabeleland North province.

Most of the names are traced to the above- mentioned tribe.

The Tonga tribe is considered to be among the pioneer indigenous settlers, who graced most parts of Matabeleland North and Midlands provinces.

This has in the past also been confirmed by prominent historians and researchers, who are in agreement that they could have settled in this country around 300-400AD when they crossed Zambesi River through Chobe, Botswana.

Others entered through Kariba and Chirundu before spreading their tentacles to other parts of the country as far as Chipuriro in Mashonaland Central province.
Chipuriro is a place in Guruve district that was previously known as Sipolilo during the Rhodesian era.

The Korekore tribe is dominant in this particular area whose lingo is said to have a Tonga dialect.

However, yours truly would like to hasten to say that there is no tribe or language, which is “superior” to the other.

Most places especially in western Zimbabwe, whether by commission or design, used to have Tonga names that were subsequently corrupted for various reasons.
This is also part of historical tourism whose niche needs to be fully utilised for the benefit of both local and foreign visitors. It may seem to be rather a tall order in terms of contribution to the hospitality industry, but it is somehow metaphorically stated that small issues at times do matter the most.

As yours truly earlier mentioned in one of the articles that it is universally acknowledged that a rose by any other name will continue to have that fragrant smell. There are also other places with comical names such as Gandavaroyi, Mpumalanga, Mufakose, Battlefields, Sidojiwe and Dangamvura, among others.

The last time yours truly “disclosed” that Cijolo was the original Tonga name and later to be corrupted to Jotsholo.

Cijolo in Tonga means some form of a sexually transmitted infection. Following the publication of the articles concerning this particular name, calls have been getting louder to try and establish the type of infection that was prevalent during that time.

However, that is now water under the bridge and will not serve any purpose as the proverbial horse had already bolted during conceiving of the controversial name.

Nkayi is a fast-growing business centre in Matabeleland North and it is surrounded by gold mining firms and informal miners, who are directly contributing to the development of the area.

In fact, Nkayi and the adjacent Bubi district are among the top regions with the highest gold deposits within the province.

There is, however, a need to improve the road network because the Bulawayo-Nkayi road is proving to be an eyesore and continues to be a danger to the travelling public.

The same also applies to the Lupane-Nkayi Road whose repair is direly overdue.

One of the country’s soccer giants, Highlanders Football Club, made history in Zimbabwe’s sports history books on being the only team to be granted a mining licence within Bubi district.

Anyway, let us leave the gold- mining issues aside and concentrate on the historical tourism concept especially on how some of the names came into being. This can also be beneficial to the hospitality industry.

A clay pot in Tonga language is called inongo or inkayi and this was corrupted to Nkayi and the name still subsists to this day.

However, history teaches us that all early tribes used clay pots for cooking and brewing purposes, among other related issues.

The multi-million dollar question is: How did they name such a particular place ‘clay pot’ when in actual fact pots were used everywhere during that period?

Yours truly will leave it for another day as this Nkayi issue is yet to be rested as there are some “grey areas”, which really need to be looked into.

Let us now look into some place called Daluka.

The best timber used in the manufacture of unique furniture is believed to be mostly found in Daluka, which is situated within Lupane district.

Besides timber production, the place is also famous for vegetable production and brick moulding. This is proving to be a positive development in terms of small to medium enterprise initiatives.

The proper label for this place is Taluka which in Tonga language means “crossing over”. It is said they were passing or crossing through a number of streams going to their farming fields.

Yours truly was of the opinion that this cross-over issue could have been somehow related to modern-day Pentecostal religious groups where such crossover activities are prevalent during the last day of the year.

This does not need any form of explanation had it not been for this Covid-19-induced era.

A bucketful of the same on the way.

For feedback, email: or Twitter: @DubeBurzil

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