Written By Isabel Harmse

Venda, also known as Tshivenḓa, Bavenda or Luvenḓa, is an official language of South Africa. The majority of Tshivenda speakers live in the northern part of South Africa’s Limpopo province, with about 10% of Tshivenda speakers living in the most southern part of Zimbabwe. The total number of Tshivenda speakers in South Africa is estimated at around 1.2 million people or just 2.2% of South Africa’s population, making Tshivenda the second smallest minority language in South Africa.

Although Tshivenda is mainly regarded as a language isolate, it has a strong literary tradition. The literary works in the language include poetry, drama, novels, short stories, essays, the Bible, Hymn Book, works on traditional literature, grammar manuals and dictionaries. In education Tshivenda is used as the teaching medium of instruction in junior primary schools, i.e. Grade 1 to Grade 3. Here is a wonderful opportunity to invest in the translation of children’s books.

Another point of interest is the fact that Tshivenda is used in business and labour relations both in spoken and written form. As one of the official languages, business people and the administration of the Limpopo province correspond using Tshivenda. Some of the workers in the region are monolingual and they can only communicate through using Tshivenda. 


The Venda language uses the Latin alphabet with five additional accented letters.

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