Children's music of the Shangana-Tsonga


  • Thomas F. Johnston University of Alaska, Fairbanks



Among the Shangana-Tsonga of the Northern Transvaal and Mozambique (hereafter referred to as the Tsonga), children’s music occurs seasonally within a broad range of social contexts, the separate boundaries of which are not always sharply defined. They include winter fireside storytelling, where the audience of children is assigned a recurring stereotyped response, and where the song-within-the-story often possesses magical power which overcomes blocks encountered by the hero. They include children’s games played before or after the rainy season when the ground is firm enough, and light subsistence activities where children traditionally help, as with herding the cattle.


Johnston, Thomas F. 1972. 'Music of the Shangana-Tsonga', Ph.D. diss., Univ. of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

Junod, Henri 1927. The life of a South African tribe, Vols. I and II, London: Macmillan.

Kirby, Percival R. 1965. The musical instruments of the native races of South Africa (reprint from 1934), Univ. of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

Marolen, D.P.P. 1954. Mitlangu ya vafana va Vatsonga. Johannesburg: Swiss Mission in South Africa, Central Mission Press.
1966. Garingani-wa-garingani. Pretoria: Beter Boeke




How to Cite

Johnston, Thomas F. 1987. “Children’s Music of the Shangana-Tsonga”. African Music : Journal of the International Library of African Music 6 (4):126-43.