Prof. Hudson Ntsan’wisi. Photo supplied/ source unknown. 

Hudson William Edison Ntsan’wisi was born in Shiluvane Mission Station in Tzaneen on 11 July 1920. He was the eldest of three children of Mlungisi and Evelyn Ntsan’wisi. Ntsan’wisi qualified as a teacher at Lemana Training Institution, a Swiss mission teachers’ college near Louis Trichardt. He later obtained a Master of Arts Degree from the University of South Africa before proceeding to study Linguistics at Georgetown University in Washington DC and at Hartford Seminary also in the US.

In light of his leadership qualities, first as a teacher and later an inspector, Ntsan’wisi was elected the first Chief Minister of the Tsonga-Machangana Legislative Assembly, later known as Gazankulu in 1969. He served as Chief Minister of Gazankulu (one of the 8 homelands) for 24 years, until his death on 23 March 1993. Ntsan’wisi, who had the blood cancer, Leukemia, was buried at the Heroes Acre Government Building Complex in Giyani.

Ntsan’wisi was married to Beatrice Ntloko and they had four children. A talented writer, he had written several Tsonga novels, the best known being Masungi. He also wrote a series of Tsonga readers for primary schools, Makomba Ndlela. His scientific work on linguistics, A descriptive study on Tsonga idioms was also published. Apart from his mother tongue, Xitsonga, Ntsan’wisi was also fluent in Afrikaans, English, French, German, Setswana, Sesotho, and Venda.


• Sonderling N.E. (1999) New Dictionary of South African Biography Vol. 2, Vista University, Pretoria, pp 173 – 175
• NYTimes, Archive, (1993), Hudson Ntsanwisi; Leader of Gazankulu, 72, from The New York Times, 26 March [online], Available at [Accessed: 06 March 2012]