Original Research

Blurry boundaries between Ṅwali and Jehovah in some Tshivenḓa modern poems

Moffat Sebola
Theologia Viatorum | Vol 47, No 1 | a160 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/tv.v47i1.160 | © 2023 Moffat Sebola | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 21 April 2022 | Published: 20 February 2023

About the author(s)

Moffat Sebola, Department of Languages, School of Languages and Communication Studies, University of Limpopo, Limpopo, South Africa


Contrary to some Vhavenḓa poets who recognise Ṅwali and/or Raluvhimba as Jehovah, this article argues that Ṅwali and Jehovah are two distinct deities. It further asserts that there is no kinship or continuity between these deities. Although there are possibilities of there being some similarities of attributes between these deities, their conceptual distinctions highlight significant incongruities between them. Ṅwali in Tshivenḓa traditional religion (TTR) is identified as the Semitic Ṅwali, which is arguably evidence that there has been a ‘Hellenisation’ of TTR and the Vhavenḓa’s concept of God. Consequently, the Vhavenḓa have been left with essentially two distinct deities to consider – a fact that has contributed and still contributes immensely to the ambivalence of the modern-day Vhavenḓa’s spiritual lifestyle. This article might add to the ongoing discourse on the decolonisation of African traditional religions and their attendant theology.


Christianity; Hellenisation; Jehovah; Mudzimu; Ṅwali; Raluvhimba; Tshivenḓa traditional religion.


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Crossref Citations

1. Decolonising Translated Bibles: The Tragic Erasure of the Vhavenḓa’s Concepts of God through the 1936 and 1998 Tshivenḓa Bible Translations
Hulisani Ramantswana
Religions  vol: 15  issue: 1  first page: 117  year: 2024  
doi: 10.3390/rel15010117