The Use of Signs and Symbols in Communication Amongst the Vhavenda

The Use of Signs and Symbols in Communication Amongst the Vhavenda

Justice Tshimangadzo Makhanikhe (University of Venda, South Africa), Rendani Tshifhumulo (University of Venda, South Africa) and Pfarelo Eva Matshidze (University of Venda, South Africa)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7492-8.ch020
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Abstract

Signs and symbols are also known to be an integral part of secret language that is expected only to be understood by the speakers of that language. Signs and symbols have been used by different African communities to transfer meaning since time immemorial, and Vhavenda communities are not immune to such phenomena. This means that the meaning of a sign and/or symbol is not necessarily readily or easily apparent to a non-speaker of the language. Non-speakers may struggle to understand what is conveyed by the speaker. This chapter seeks to explore the characteristics, types of signs and symbols used by the Vhavenda communities to communicate meaning. Data will be collected from elderly members of the Vhavenda communities within Thulamela local municipality. Fifteen elders will be engaged through face-to-face interviews as well as focus group discussions for data collection purposes. Data for this book chapter will then be analysed thematically.
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The Vhavenda People

The Vhavenda people occupy an area in and around the Soutpansberg Mountains in the north-eastern section of South Africa's Limpopo Province and specifically in Vhembe District Municipality (VDM), close to the borders with Mozambique and Zimbabwe. The name Venda refers only to the area or territory and the people are called Vhavenda. Kruger National Park is located on the eastern side of Venda towards the boarder to Mozambique. The southern part of Venda is occupied by Vatsonga cultural group who speaks Xitsonga language (Matshidze, 2013). The western boundaries are formed by agricultural farmlands and cattle ranches owned by English- and Afrikaans-speaking white South Africans as well as areas inhabited by the Northern Sotho. To the north is the Limpopo River, the international boundary with Zimbabwe, where many Venda people live under seven chiefs in the southern and central parts of that country (Ralushai, 1978).

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