The Tonga people trace their origins back to central Africa. They arrived in Zimbabwe about AD 300. Their forefathers favoured the riverine areas along the Zambezi, Kana, Mzola and Tshongokwe Rivers in Zimbabwe and Zambia. Here they grew their crops in the rich soils along the water, while supplementing this in a large part from the rich bounty of these areas through gathering wild plants, hunting the many wild animals and importantly fishing.
The Tonga people were displaced from the shores of the Zambezi River in the late 1950’s when Kariba Dam was built and filled. Their forced resettlement resulted in serious disruptions of the socio-economic and cultural environment of the Tonga people. This, and the many misconceptions about the Tonga people by outsiders, encouraged the Museums service to assist in promoting their culture.
The BaTonga Community Museum – Binga
Situated in Binga on the shores of Lake Kariba the museum that was opened in September 2004, seeks to promote and empower the local communities and the Tonga culture. It showcases the traditions, science, beliefs and ingenuity of the Tonga people in living in what many of us would perceive as a dry, hostile environment. The rich Tonga history is recorded.