MINORITY RIGHTS SEMINAR
The Tonga have ten Toes
The rights of cultural minorities are often underplayed in Zimbabwe in the interests of promoting national unity and the political requirement that all Zimbabweans conform to one set of cultural values.
The Valley Tonga are the third largest ethnic group in Zimbabwe but, even so, their number amounts to far less than a couple of hundred thousand as distinct from the nine million Shona and three million Ndebele who are resident in and around the major centres of Zimbabwe.
The Valley Tonga have no voice and they suffer all the setbacks of being a small number of rural people in a remote corner of a country. They are the victim of myths, ignorance and prejudices which portray them as dangerous, deformed and primitive.
The Tonga notice that it is outsiders who run their shops, hospitals and schools. In addition, except for the first two grades at school, their children are taught exclusively in Shona or Ndebele.
Very little so far has been published in the Tonga language and nothing is broadcast in Tonga in Zimbabwe except for a few daily news bulletins (makaani) on Radio 4.
The theme of the present seminar is minority rights and although the subject is Valley Tonga, much of what will be discussed will apply to
other minority cultures and communities including the Nambians, Venda, Ndau, Sena, VaDema, Kalanga, the white and coloured communities and minority groups who are the victims of conscious discrimination, such as the gay community.
The aim of the seminar is not simply to table the social and economic difficulties facing the Tonga people but to outline the essential principles of minority rights in relation to marginalised peoples and to ascertain how these affect the Valley Tonga in Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Representatives from the major human rights groups and organisations in Zimbabwe will be contributing to the seminar.
Date for Human Rights Seminar
Tuesday 5th August:
L'Alliance Francaise, Harare, Zimbabwe.