TOLACCO was established by some academics amongst the Tonga. The main objective of TOLACCO was to advocate for the promotion of Tonga language and culture, engaging the government over policy change on issues patterning to minority languages, mobilising locals in mass production of Tonga reading and other learning materials. The organisation also sought to mobilise potential applicants within the Tonga community for teacher training. According to Sinampande this was after the realisation by Tonga traditional leaders that children in Binga were being taught by teachers who were not originally Tonga hence they failed to fully engage the students. The organisation has been involved in advocacy through the ministry of education sports and culture to have Tonga officially recognized and have the language included in Zimbabwe’s education curriculum. The organisation has contributed to the mobilisation of resources for publication of Tonga textbooks which are to be used by Tonga children in schools. TOLACCO also promotes literacy amongst the Tonga by paying school fees for the less privileged Tonga children. The organisation is also working with other with other ethnic minority groups in advocating for the recognition of their languages in Zimbabwe and they have formed the Zimbabwe Indigenous languages Promotion Association ZILPA in order to achieve this goal.
The Tonga have also sought to attain recognition through their unique arts and culture. Tonga art encompasses their music and dance craft work and poetry the Tonga with the help of other stakeholders managed to further their culture through various means. Culture can be means of development. Amongst the Tonga culture has also can be deemed a livelihood means.
To date the Tonga has participated in a number of prominent cultural festivals or galas held locally as well as regionally and internationally. They have used these events as a platform to promote their culture as well as to advance the agenda of attaining recognition. Cultural festivals have been used as platforms for cultural exchange development with other groups from Zimbabwe and abroad as they interact with other culture.
An example of these events is the Shangano arts festival that is held annually in Matabeleland north province. The event was launched in 2007 and has become one of the biggest cultural events held in Zimbabwe. The event is named in Nambia which means getting together . at this event Tonga artist have participated and exhibited their culture through arts . Binga district has hosted the event 2009 and 2012. The event has also seen the participation of groups from Zambia. At the event workshops are held with the sole aim of sharing ideas on cultural promotion and development. According to Chief Sianzali events like Shangano are good platforms for minority groups to promote their cultures. He credited events like Shangano for creating platforms for minority groups like the Tonga to exhibit their artistic talent which he says have not been taped for a long time because of marginalisation. He also notes that the recognition of Tonga language and its introduction into the countries education curriculum can be attributed to the events such as Shangano. He further added that such events have made strides towards attaining recognition despite the poor media coverage
At a local level the Tonga have held cultural events aimed at exhibiting Tonga culture. These events include the ngoma butibe which is held annually. This is a ceremony where there is dance and music played with the use of drums and horns. The dance was largely done in honour of the dead at funerals. Nowadays the ceremony is being held annually as a celebration of Tonga culture. According to D. Sinampande the ngoma butimbe is the greatest symbol of Tonga culture which has stood the taste of time thus it is one of the pillars which has helped Tonga culture to survive.
Furthermore Tonga artists have participated in internationally recognized like Harare international festival of the arts HIFA.HIFA has become one of Africa’s biggest cultural events and it attracts people from all over the world. It was established in 2009 by Emanuel Baggoro and since then it has been held annually. The event focuses on various forms of arts which include fine arts , theatre and music. Participating at events such as HIFA has helped Tonga groups to showcase their cultural artistic talents to people of diverse cultural backgrounds. Also since HIFA is an international event which attracts a huge audience Tonga culture automatically gets international recognition. Groups which have participate at events like HIFA include Mukoomba a music group which sings in Tonga. Thus group has put Tonga language and culture on the international scene. The group has also participated at cultural events in Norway and Belgium. The group has also scooped awards in Malawi. There are also other groups like Simonga from Siyachilaba which have participated at HIFA to showcase the ngoma butibe dance which is the greatest symbol of Tonga culture. The participation of Tonga groups at events like HIFA has made it possible for Tonga culture to be recognised. They have used such platforms to promote their culture. Arts are a form of expression thus it has been one of the mechanisms employed by the Tonga to attain recognition.
The Tonga have also held cultural exchange programmes with other ethnic groups from the region and overseas. Cultural exchange is an interactive form of cultural activism. It facilitates for the sharing of ideas aimed at cultural promotion and development between the Tonga and other ethnic groups. These cultural exchange programmes have been have been made possible by organisations such as Basilwizi, Intengwe, Culture Fund, HIVOS and Progressio. Josias Mungombe pointed out that cultural exchange programmes have given the Tonga to promote their culture as well as a platform to quell all the misconceptions about their past.. the organisations have worked together to bring groups from as far as the united kingdom and Australia to Binga and share ideas.. such event have also have also helped the Tonga to secure funding for developmental programmes such as the Tonga Online and Tonga On Air
A notable example of these cultural exchange programmes was that of Australian artists and Tonga culture which began in 1995. This saw a number of Austrian artists like wienerTtschuschenkapelle and Stadtwerkstatt Linz visiting. In 1997 a project of six contemporary composers reflecting on the unique ngoma butibe dance was launched and a group of 30 members of the Simonga group participated in the festival der regional in upper Austria province crossing the dead mountains under the theme Kunst Aobet Leben. These events have also resulted in the recognition of Tonga culture
In 2012 Progressio in conjunction with Basilwizi Trust and Intengwe also held a cultural exchange programmes in Binga. This programme involved a group of youths from the United Kingdom and volunteers from Binga. The programme was aimed at sharing ideas on development. It touched on issues to do with health, education and cultural promotion. According to Luckson Kufandiko one of the volunteers the groups which have taken part in the cultural exchange programmes have shown great appreciation of Tonga culture thus they have done well in the quest for recognition. Cultural exchange programmes have worked well in creating awareness about culture on Tonga culture and have fostered relations with other groups which have created platforms .
Also as a way of promoting development through culture the Tonga also established a craft centre for Tonga crafts man , the Binga craft centre. The community based project boasts of a membership of more than 4000 craft producers from Binga district. The Binga Craft centre is an initiative of the Tonga people whose aim is to promote the traditional crafts by rural people in that area. Amongst the Tonga arts and craft are a livelihood means as it helps them raise some income from their artistic works which involve basketry , drums and stools . The organisation also trains and equip rural illiterate Tonga women with marketing skills for their products. The organisation enabled over 4000 Tonga women to produce baskets for commercial purposes which been exported to Europe, Australia and the US. According to Mudenda the program led to empowerment of Tonga craft producers in generating income, to date baskets with an estimated market value of US1 500 000.00 have been exported since its establishment in 1989 and has since transformed into a members’ association comprising 33 affiliate clubs with a total of 4 000 women. All the women are basket weavers. The Craft Centre, located in the centre of Binga town serves as an outlet for special crafts produced by a network of Tonga women. The crafts are made of ilala harvested from the wild. The range of crafts depicts the Tonga culture wares. A new range of products is also being developed in line with the contemporary market tastes although the weave pattern has largely remained uniquely Tonga.
Mudenda further highlights that the Tonga have held exhibitions for their craft work known as the isasa which is held at Binga Rural District Council offices annually. At this event the Tonga display their unique and distinct artefacts like clay pots stools, basketry, sculptures and drums. The event is organised by the rural district council in conjunction with local organisations like Basilwizi and Intengwe that have been working to promote development amongst the Tonga. The event is also graced by other ethnic and other influential members of the society. The event serves to encourage to continue producing artefacts which are symbols of their culture and this a way of preserving their culture and ensure it is recognised and not marginalised
Establishment of a Community Radio Station
With the role of the media being crucial in the promotion of development the Tonga also sought to curtail the media blackout by establishing a community radio station. In 2007 they established the Tonga on air. It was meant to cater for the Tonga who had not been receiving coverage from the state media. The establishment of the radio station was a move aimed at providing the Tonga with access to information and giving Tonga arts and culture exposure. Mudimba points out to the significance of the radio station basing on the fact that the Tonga did not have any radio or television signal for years and that the establishment of Tonga on air would give the BaTonga community the chance to be informed as well as the chance to reach out to the general populace.
The establishment of the radio at Sinazongwe was aided by a team of Austrian radio activists was primarily aimed at improving communication and access to information in the marginalised remote area. The station was at Sinanzongwe Basic School and had the capacity to cover a radius of 20 kilometres reaching out to approximately 10000 people and was meant to serve the Tonga on both sides of the Zambezi
For a marginalised community like the Tonga a community radio station can be used as a means for articulation and self-representation which not only helps in strengthening self-consciousness , identity , and culture but it is also an apparatus of communication which contributes to the emancipation and autonomy of a people in a region dominated by political crisis and gives impulse to a vivid public discourse on culture , society and politics. In that way a community radio station will is broad promoter of public discourse.. it facilitates for equal medial participation as it is open to more democratic and self-organised as it is open to the community. The Tonga on air project has also facilitated for the re-joining of families which were once separated by the construction of the Kariba dam. A community radio station also influences change in media policy as it forwards. The radio station also helped in bridging the information gap. It also offers educational programmes in Tonga thus it is very audible to the targeted community
Establishment of a Community Museum
Also as a way of promoting and developing Tonga language and culture the BaTonga also established a community museum at Binga centre. The museum has played a significant role in revitalising Tonga language and culture. BaTonga Museum (2012) the museum known as BaTonga Museum was established in 2000 with the help as a concerted effort between the Tonga community and MS Zimbabwe a Danish non-governmental organisatiion.as highlighted above in community ladened with stereotypes and misconceptions which have led to the near extinction of Tonga language and culture the museum serves as a platform to rewrite the history of the Tonga through the various programmes it carries out. BaTonga Museum (2002) the main objective of the museum is to demystify Tonga culture and create awareness about the Tonga locally, nationally and internationally.it also seeks to rebuild self-esteem and dignity amongst the Tonga. Furthermore besides promoting and preserving Tonga language and cultural material the museum also works in support of the livelihoods of Tonga artists by buying artefacts for display in the gallery. Since ones culture is also conveyed through arts the museum has played a very significant role in this respect. The museum also hosts a number of cultural events which are e With the above objectives in mind the establishment of BaTonga Museum by the Tonga community can be deemed a good developmental initiative as it helps to promote the recognition of the Tonga people. According to Chikozho the curator of the museum the museum has made a major contribution towards the restoration of the Tonga social fabric. He attributes his assertion to the role the museum has played in Binga district and in Zimbabwe at large. The museum has acted as a source of information to both the Tonga and the general populace. By taking responsibility of buying Tonga cultural material the museum has both supported Tonga livelihoods and the promotion and preservation of Tonga culture. Previously Tonga artefacts were being sold on the informal market and exported out of the country at low costs and were sold at very huge prices and in some instances they would be given alien names which meant that the Tonga were being exploited. Such a scenario did not do the Tonga good thus the museum’s role in protecting Tonga cultural material is a way of promoting development amongst the Tonga through promoting their culture. The museum is also a resource centre as everyone whom wishes to learn about Tonga culture is referred to it in as far as Tonga history and culture is concerned.
The Introduction ICT amongst The Tonga
The Tonga through the help of donors has also made efforts to promote access to modern technology by introducing ICT to the Tonga community. They launched the Tonga Online project in 2001. The establishment of the project was facilitated by the Kunzwana Trust which worked with the Austrian Zimbabwean friendship association. Since its launch the Tonga online project has primarily focused on promoting a Tonga voice over the internet. The projects objectives are to provide the Tonga access to the worlds most advanced communication tools which will enable them to represent themselves to the outside world and reflect upon the social, political and economic environment of both the global village in which the Tonga live.
The project derives its name mulonga from the Zambezi River. The name reflects the history and aspirations of the Tonga people. The name constantly revokes memories of how the Tonga were displaced to make way for the construction of the Kariba dam which has seen them becoming a marginalised group in Zimbabwe. Even well after their relocation the Tonga are being passed by huge commercial benefits from tourism and electricity that are being extracted from their former habitat which was transformed into a vast expanse of water known as the Kariba dam . The Tonga Online project seeks to establish and expand communication technology with and amongst the Tonga on both sides of the Zambezi by joining them in with information communication technology. A number of school based information technology centres have been established in Binga district have been established in Binga district namely at Binga High School and at Manjolo and these have catered for the larger Tonga community with more schools being earmarked for the project
Access to information has become a great question of political rights hence the importance of the Tonga Online project as a tool to spearhead awareness continuity empowerment and local development amongst the Tonga people. The educational significance of the Tonga online project is very significant especially for those in a remote part of the country like Binga where there are no institutions of higher learning
The project also reflects the digital divide and other uneven developments; in the global village. These gaps and imbalances are not only a question of access to resources but also to have the capacity to use these modern day communication tools. In a world where access to information has become a universal human right the Tonga online project tends to support higher levels of human development
The use of the global village has created a platform of for the Tonga to promote their culture through the internet. Currently the internet is one of the most convenient modes of communication and the Tonga Online project is a platform that can be used to give the Tonga a voice on the internet. It has been used as a platform by the Tonga to interact with other cultures hence it has been a medium of cultural exchange thus promoting the recognition of the Tonga
For an ethnic minority like the Tonga ICT can be an effective means to reduce poverty and empower them to help themselves. Access to information and knowledge are critical components of attaining development. Information Communication Technology enables access to information that is useful to the marginalized group like the Tonga. ICT also helps in creating strategies and frameworks for reducing poverty by devising ways of providing relevant, useful, need based and timely information to the marginalised groups. Therefore