Our Story

A series collects and retells the story of the ancestors of all South Africans.

Ancestral Voices

A recently discovered collection of writing of South African culture and history.

891 Ancestral Writings in Indigenous Languages discovered by Heritage Publishers

The Ancestral Voices project and campaign is a partnership between South African Heritage Publishers and the Special Collections Unit of the Department of Library Services, University of Pretoria, with unwavering support from City Press, and is of such importance in recording the history and culture of South Africa’s people that a decision has been taken to release regular media updates reporting on progress made and new information gleaned from these writings – indeed, we end this release with brief extracts from ten writings to give readers an idea of the value of this project – and repeating our appeal for support to publicise these works in order to find the descendants of their authors.

We hope South African radio stations will consider regular readings from these papers, either in the indigenous language in which they were written or in English.


Statement from the South African High Commission to the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland Pledging Support

The full text of the High Commissions Statement reads as follows:

I have just received a go-ahead from High Commissioner Tambo regarding the publication.

As such this serves to confirm that the High Commission will provide the necessary support for the publication of material about the shared heritage between South Africa and the UK.

Regarding the article about the history of amaBhaca (Finding Ncaphayi) please feel free to insert the following at the bottom of the publication:

The South African High Commission in the UK would like to acknowledge the efforts by the SA Heritage Publishers on the initiative of “Finding Ncaphayi”.

We further express our sincere willingness to assist in getting more information about Bertie ‘White’ Ncaphayi from the British Archives in the United Kingdom.

Project Update

1) Bertie White-Makapula:
The search for his grave in the UK continues. We hope soon to get an update from the United Kingdom authorities via the South African High Commission to the UK and Northern Ireland.1) Bertie White-Makapula: The search for his grave in the UK continues. We hope soon to get an update from the United Kingdom authorities via the South African High Commission to the UK and Northern Ireland.
2) Descendants of the following authors have been traced:
M Balfour (EC); N Mabale, P Shilubana and J Ndhambi (Limpopo) JS Mokgoatlheng (GP) grandfather of Justice Ratha Mokgoatlheng.
3) Value of the Writings:
Over 100 writings have been transcribed into current indigenous language orthography and translated into English. The value of these works to heritage enthusiasts, professionals and indeed future generations is reinforced with the completion of each work. These writings will establish themselves as a totally unique and important record of the culture, history and way of life of the people they cover and, in most instances, they are authored by a member of the clan they cover.
4) Availability of Writings:
SA Heritage is in the process of arranging for the writings – original handwritten manuscript, original typed transcription, MS Word transcription and translation – to be placed on our website so they can be accessed via a low-cost annual subscription.

Ongoing Search for Author’s Descendants

We request all media houses and radio stations to publicise this initiative in the hope we can find more relatives. Click here to see a list of authors and their last known addresses https://saheritagepublishers.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Ancestral-Voices-Author-Addresses.pdf

Click here to see a list of all titles by language and author https://saheritagepublishers.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Ancestral-Voices-Author-and-Language-Analysis.pdf

List of Writings by Language

To see a list of the writings by titles arranged by language and author, click on this link: https://saheritagepublishers.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Ancestral-Voices-Author-and-Language-Analysis.pdf

The titles highlighted in yellow have been scanned.

For more information please e-mail info@saheritagepublishers.co.za

Visit: www.saheritagepublishers.co.za

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SAHeritage.Publishers/


Extracts from translated works

Vilakazi 816 – Written in isiZulu in 1948

It is astonishing to hear an old person saying that they do not know where they come from, for it means that the children do not know themselves or which clan they belong to. One finds many people who say they are Zulu, because they do not know which nation on earth they are.

Dhlomo 152 – Written in isiZulu in 1939
Title: Various items (22) of Zulu custom and four histories of the Bhaca, Sibiya, Sikhakhana and Cele.

Our practice in kwaZulu is not to permit any people to call the inkosi by his name, even those who are near to him in terms of blood. Furthermore, other words that are close to the inkosi’s name are not uttered; the words are hlonipha’d greatly, and other syllables are sought by which the things being respected might be called. In particular women, even if they are members of the great house, hlonipha a lot. Sometimes you cannot comprehend, in truth, what they are saying as they speak.

The inkosi of the Ndwandwe was named Langa. The people of kwaNdwandwe did not call the sun above us ‘ilanga’ but instead called it ‘igala’, because they hlonipha’d the inkosi Langa. The Nxumalo people also used to hlonipha the word “kwalusa”. So, when they were talking about herding, they used to say “ukukhangeza” instead. This was on account of the fact that Malusi was an inkosi of the Nxumalo house.

Dlamini 144 – Written in isiXhosa in 1938
Title: Bhaca History

The great inkosi of the amaBhaca was Madikane, who together with Jokazi son of Sobizwa, the first-born son of Manqolo, and Mdudu, the first-born son of Machiya, all fled the wrath of the leader of the amaZulu, Tshaka. Madikane was Tshaka’s younger brother according to their order of birth.

These three groups crossed the Thukela river, heading towards Natal, and they reached the Mngeni river where they rested for a short time. Conflict broke out between them and the Ntlangwini, which caused them to flee further in order to find another place to build a homestead at Mgungundlovu (Pietermaritzburg). The town was not there yet that is there now.

Gqwabaza 57 – Written in isiXhosa in 1938
Title: Hlubi History

Originally, we were called imihuhu, us amaHlubi, after Mhuhu son of Ndlovu who also fathered Dlamini the first, he who also fathered Mthimkhulu the first, who had two sons – the elder was Ngcobo and the younger was Rhadebe. Ngcobo refused to marry because he said that women were smelly; So then allegedly Rhadebe was told to go and marry and have children for his brother. So Nomunge, Hlubi’s daughter, was taken in marriage – she who was called ‘the millet from Dlambula’s kraal’. That girl was the one who gave birth to the greatness of Dlomo, he who fathered Mashiya, and Mashiya fathered Ntsele, the father of Bhungane who was a great inkosi famous in this race of the amaHlubi.

Vilakazi 378 – Written in isiZulu 1939
Title: Tribal history of the Humusha of Ladysmith; some of their customs, first fruits of the Sithole tribe and some small items.

The AmaHumusha are not truly abantu, even though they are Black their origin is not the amaZulu, but rather comes from the time of the slaves, when the amaHumusha came as slaves; and when the slaves ended they just joined with many nations and learned to speak Afrikaans and even isiZulu. They do not forget it. Some of the amaHumusha are white like the Bushmen. Particularly those of Khazi’s area on the other side of the Nkunzi mountain. It is apparent that they married Whites because some even to this day marry Whites such as the Clarks who are people who married Whites, and then Mr Clark died and Mr Giles remained who is there up until the present day. At Clark’s there is a person who is a White but with wives who are Black. Many are the surnames which are not ones from people of this land among the amaHumusha, such as Paterson, Clarke etc. The inkosi is Black like umuntu, but he is of the amaHumusha stock.


Mashile 573 – Written in Xitsonga in 1942
Title: Sehlare Tribe of Mapulana

My king I would like to retell this news in the way it was told. The tribe that has settled here is the Mapulana. They were given this name by the Bapedi who came to steal their livestock. Initially, the Mapulana were called Bapule, with lion as their totem. They are called Bataung. All over the Bapule people were called Bataung and today they are called Mapulana. They build their homes in Bonama, a place known as Lepuname. From here they went to Sabie. These people were ruled by two kings.

Katumetsi 166 – Written in Setswana in 1938
Title: Hurutshe (Zeerust) recent history, and Shepstone.

It might have been about the year 1820 or 1830 when the Bakwena killed their chief Motswasele. At that time my grandfather Katumetsi was a petty chief, a Councillor of Chief Motswasele. After his elder brother had been killed, Katumetsi, having received advice from his mother’s people, and as the Bakwena wanted to kill him also, went away with his servants and his inherited possessions and sought shelter in this country of the Bafurutshe, where Chief Moilwa-a-Sebogodi was Moilwa himself being a grandchild of the Bakwena.

Naoa 150 – written in Setswana in 1938
Title: History of Mfathla Ndebele Tribe.

The Letšula king called Mazwe from kwaZulu ruled before King Chaka and Mzilikazi. This king was different from his brother because of initiation. They were fighting over the kingship. That is why Mazwe fled to Lesotho with his followers. Mazwe was married to two wives. The first wife was Mositho and the second wife was called Letsutsu who was matriarch of all the Matsutsa people. After Mazwe’s death his son Mothlasedi ruled the tribe just like his father. Mothlasedi went to Lesotho and settled in Phuthihatsana where he later died. Thereafter his son Tselapedi ruled the tribe. He had a son called Maila.

Shilubana 239 – Written in Xitsonga in 1938
Title: History of the Nkuna tribe

In the year 1833 Manukuse, (Soshangaan SAH Ed) the leader of the Nguni tribe announced the launch of a circumcision school at Bileni. All looked well. However, a year later, in 1834, he was on the move. He left the area (Bileni) together with the Nkhavelani tribe, Mabunda tribe and several others and headed to Nkanghala (Rhodesia).

Morutse 126 – Written in Sesotho sa Leboa in 1938
Title: Matlala (Kotole) history and custom.

It was said the Matlala people originate from the tribe outside of the country. It was said that they come from a place where there was a road between the seas. The ancestors said they passed through those seas using the road that passed between them. They moved along the eastern sea but they do not know every well where they settled before they crossed those seas.

From there they settled in Bokgakga near Pietersburg. They settled in Bokgaga for a long period. During their settlement in Bokgaga their chief was Pebane. There was once tension amongst the people of this tribe but it is not known what caused it. From Bokgaga they moved to the place called Borale. Borale is the name of the mountain between Witbank and Bronkhorstspruit.