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Professor SJ Malungana was born on the 9th April 1947 at Sedan Village, the settlement of Chief Muhlava. He was the 5th son of the late Jim Xikhwixini and Cheyeza Malungana. In 1977 he got married to Lucy Miringu Mabale. They were blessed with three children, two daughters: Lario and Rebecca and one Son: Jan Mbetse. He attended primary school at Mhalamhala in Phalaborwa and matriculated at Maripi High School. He had a dream of becoming a teacher. In 1974 he obtained a J.S.T.C from the then Tivumbeni Training College in 1974. Determined to climb the ladder of academic success, Professor Malungana enrolled for a B.A degree majoring in XiTsonga at the then University of the North and graduated in 1985. After which he enrolled for a B.A Honours Degree in XiTsonga and the very University and graduated in 1987. Academic success developed within his blood which persuaded him to enrol for a Masters Degree in XiTsonga and later a D.Litt et Phil at the then Rand Afrikaans University (RAU) and graduated in 1989 and 1994 respectively. He taught at Orhovhelani Training School (1975-1977). In 1978 he was appointed as a Head of the Department at Professor Shiluvane High School (1978-1985). From 1986-1987 he worked as a Lecturer at Hoxani College of Education. His determination and passion for teaching led to him lending a promotion to a Deputy Principal and later Principal at Phangasasa and Xitsikixana High Schools respectively for the period 1988 to 1995. In 1995, Professor Malungana was appointed as a Senior Lecturer of XiTsonga at the University of Venda. He was responsible for establishing the XiTsonga Department and capacitating it to what it was. This is where he threw himself head on into the academic and professional obligations. He used his role as a Senior Lecturer to contribute to the upliftment of XiTsonga. He taught and produced many graduates at both undergraduate and post-graduate levels. His invaluable academic, professional and organisational skills led to his employment by the Limpopo Education Department as the Deputy Chief Examiner of Xitsonga Grade 12 paper 1 in 1998 and later the Chief Examiner of Grade 12 papers 1 and 3 for the period 1999-2009. Professor Malungana was also appointed as a National Moderator for XiTsonga Grade 12 for the period 2006-2011. Professor Malungana was an author, an altruist, a true patriot and unwavering academic. He authored over 30 books and study guides in XiTsonga, nine (9) in XiTsonga Poetry , five(5) in XiTsonga Short stories, two (2) drama, eleven (11) oral tradition (folklore) books, twelve (12) grammar text books, XiTsonga study guides for grade 10,11 and 12. Between 2001 – 2009 some of his books were prescribed for grade 10,11,12 and grade 3.
In 2006 he received an M-Net award for his volume of poems publications: Swilo swa humelelela
He also received a recognition certificate for his tireless contribution in the compilation of Xitsonga Dictionary: Xitsonga NLU. He wrote and presented numerous academic papers at conferences. He also authored and published three academic articles.
Professor Malungana was appointed as an External Examiner for XiTsonga undergraduate and postgraduate papers at the following institutions: University of the North (1996-2003), Vista University (1998-2004) and UNISA (1999-2004). He also served as a member of the following organisations: African Languages of SA (ALSA), South African Folklore Societies (SAFS), Pan South African Language Board (PSALB), Federation of Indigenous Languages in SA (FILSA) and Xitsonga National Lexicography Unit (Board Member).