Under acts of the South African Parliament, land was set aside for blacks in pseudoindependent territories (originally called "Bantustans"), allegedly to allow blacks self-government and cultural preservation. Venda was designated for Venda-speaking people. In reality the homelands allowed the white government to control blacks and exclude them from the political process.
In 1973, Venda was granted "self-government," and in 1979 it became the third homeland to be granted "independence" from South Africa. As an independent state, all residents of Venda were treated as foreigners in the remainder of South Africa. The UN Security Council condemned the homelands policy as an attempt by the white government to further their policies of apartheid and Venda was not recognized internationally as an independent state. Venda was reabsorbed into South Africa in 1994.
It was declared self-governing on February 1, 1973. On September 13, 1979, it was declared independent by the South African government and its residents lost their South African citizenship. In common with other bantustans, its independence was not recognized by the international community.
It was initially a series of non-contiguous territories in the Transvaal, with one main part and one main exclave. Its capital, formerly at Sibasa, was moved to Thohoyandou (which included the old Sibasa administrative district) when Venda was declared independent in 1979. Prior to independence it was expanded to form one contiguous territory, with a total land area of 6,807 km². Its stated population in 1991 was 558,797 (This was not accurate), with the majority of Venda peoples in Southern Africa living within its territory. The state was cut off from neighboring Zimbabwe by the Madimbo corridor, patrolled by South African troops, to the north, and from nearby Mozambique by the Kruger National Park.
The first President of Venda, Patrick Mphephu, was also a chief of the Venda people. His successor, Frank Ravele, was overthrown in a military coup in 1990, after which the territory was ruled by the Council of National Unity. Venda was re-absorbed into South Africa on April 27, 1994.
In 1982, the University of Venda was established as an institution for higher learning for vha-Venda people.