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Early History of the KNP Area

Virtual Ranger
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Tue Feb 14, 2006 7:47 am Unread post
It is the Portuguese who used crosses to mark a route.
There is one on the riverloop (S95) North of Letaba.

They were all cut into Leadwood trees, as these trees live long and seldom gets scarred by animals(like elephant).
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Virtual Ranger
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Tue Feb 14, 2006 10:18 am Unread post
wildtuinman wrote
Easy one Das neve's cross just north of Letaba camp and just south of the letaba bridge on one of those several gravel road loops alongside the river.

Carved in a leadwood if not mistaken.

Correct !!! Das Neves Cross.

The origin of a typical Portuguese cross, carved into an old leadwood tree along the S95 road just north of Letaba, remains shrouded in mystery. It may have been carved by the Portuguese explorer, Ferdinandes das Neves, during his expedition to the Soutpansberg in 1860-61.

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Tue Feb 14, 2006 12:01 pm Unread post
The map of the travels (fairly large, I have an even larger one):

Last edited by Elsa on Fri Sep 19, 2014 2:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

pic resized.

Virtual Ranger
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Tue Feb 14, 2006 6:21 pm Unread post
Interesting map.
This guy travelled quite a bit, don't you think ?
I cannot imagine what he went through, travelling across the region in those days :?

Early History of the KNP Area

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Thu Apr 16, 2009 1:03 pm Unread post

The " Generale Verenigde Geoktrooijeerde Nedelandse Oos - Indiese Compagnie " later called the " V O C " ( Verenigde Oos-Indiese Compagnie ) was formed in Amsterdam in 1602. It was managed by 17 directors known as Here XVII. Their achieved aim was the gain of political, cultural and economic influence in the Indian Ocean Areas from the Cape to Japan. They were very successful and gathered enormous riches.

During 1651, the VOC decided to start an outpost at the Kaap de Goeie Hoop resulting in Jan van Riebeeck arriving at Table Bay on 6 April 1652, with his three sail ships - Dromedaris, de Rijger and de Goede Hoop . The outpost was successful and they became aware of the mineral riches of AFRICA and subsequently decided to extend their domain.

On 25 July 1719, a decision was made in Amsterdam to take occupation of Delagoa Bay. Two ships the Gouda and Zeelandia were sent of and arrived at the now Maputo bay on 21 March 1721, loaded with whatever they thought that may be required for establishing a base at Monomotapa for the treasure trade, of gold and ivory.

A suitable site was selected and the building of a earth and wood fort commenced. Fort de Lagoa later renamed to Fort Lijdzaamheid was completed within a few months, in the meantime treaties were agreed upon and signed with the local native leaders.

With the fort completed, the gardens flourishing, the plans for an inland expedition started taking shape.

The first group to move inland was under the leadership of Sergeant J.C. Steffler and 19 other soldiers. They moved to the Lebombo Mountains bordering Swaziland. While crossing, the group was attacked by a Swazi Impi and in the skirmish Steffler and another NCO were killed. The survivors withdrew to Fort de Lagoa.

The de Cuiper Expedition - Part 1

Jan van de Capelle was appointed Comander of the Fort de Lagoa base in 1725, being ambitious and very patriotic he made plans for an expedition into the interior which was put to the Here XVII, to investigate the mineral riches of Monomotapa.

The proposal was accepted and preparations commenced, 31 men were selected, the expedition under comand of Frans de Cuiper, set off on 27 June 1725. The supplies packed onto oxen. Eight natives who would act as interpreters also joined the group.

They moved in a northwesterly direction along the Matola River, through the sandy hot East African soil. after about four days, they reached the Inkomati River at Moamba. The expedition reached the now Rezano Garcia on 4 July 1725 where camp was pitched.

A small group was sent out on 5 July 1725 - the first Europeans to enter the Transvaal, to make contact with of the local native chiefs .

The expedition struck camp and set off on 6 July 1725, the Inkomati was crossed the same day. They soon realised that they were not welcome. They tried to get a local guide, but were not successful as Chief Coupanne had given strict instructions that no assistance may be rendered.

On 9 July the expedition arrived at a big kraal consisting of about 100 huts. After long negotiations with Chief Sweni, the latter appointed a guide to accompany the expedition. A second was recruited from the kraal of Alari Motsari ( chief Coupanne's father ) on the Moetji River, a branch of the Monganje ( now Crocodile ) River south of Komati Poort.

The expedition crossed the Monganje River on 10 July 1725 about 3 km east of the now Crocodile Bridge Rest Camp in the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK - the first Europeans to put foot to the now KRUGER NATIONAL PARK. Here on the northern banks the expedition met Chief Pande.

Very soon an Impi of about five hundred warriors, shouting war cries and drumming on their shields, surrounded the little group, claiming that the guides be relieved of their duties. De Cuiper realised that trouble was brooding and agreed that the guides could return, the Impi then dispersed.

The expedition then set off, soon a native approached them, offering to guide them to the kraal of Chief Dawano on the banks of the Vurhami River.

They camped and rested on 11 July, here one of their oxen died of a mysterious disease. They questioned the locals about the route to Ciremandelle ( Phalaborwa ) and Thowelle ( Zimbabwe ), everyone questioned, had a different story and it was then realised that they either did not know or were deliberately trying to mislead them.

That evening an old man came to the encampment and informed de Cuiper that he knew the two routes and explained that a day's trek would bring them to the Sabe ( River of Fear ) River, a further day would bring them to the kraal of Massawane, a further day to Matonie and a further two days to Ciramandelle where there was no gold but plenty of copper to exchange. There was plenty of gold, copper and ivory for exchange at Simangale in the Thowelle Area.

He explained that Thowele was about eight days of hard trekking from the kraal of Dawano and that many traders came up the Great Zambezi River, to barter the riches in the land of Tsouke.

Of the Rivers mentioned were the Sabe, Matintonde ( Nwasintsontso - river that flows into the sand ), Matiwati ( Timbavati - Bitter water ), Moutomme ( Ntomene - Jackalberry), Imbaloele ( Balule - faraway river, now the Olifants ) .

Frans de Kuiper now realised that they were not sufficiently equiped for an expedition to either Ciremandelle or Thowelle.

Suddenly on 12 July the group was surrounded by an aggressive mass of shouting, horn blowing natives, from Chief Dawano, comand was given to form a battle formation and defend themselves. The Impi attacked with their assegais, during the initial onslaught, two of de Cuiper's men were wounded, while six of the Impi were killed and ten wounded. All their cattle had been killed. The expedition realised that they had better retreat, they were followed up to sunset while many more of the Impi were shot and killed. De Cuiper ordered that they were to retreat untill they had crossed the Lebombo Mountains. A commemorative plaque has been erected at Gomondwane on the site of this battle, and is still to be viewed.

The Following morning 13 July the troops were again confronted by an Impi threatening to kill them ,for moving through their land. In the ensueing battle a few more members of the Impi were wounded and killed. Eventually the troops reached and crossed the Inkomati River ( estimated at the now Incomati station in Mozambique ), while being followed by a threatening Impi.

Last edited by gmlsmit on Thu Apr 16, 2009 5:12 pm, edited 3 times in total.

Re: Early History of the Area

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Thu Apr 16, 2009 1:14 pm Unread post
Thanks so much for this gmlsmit..its fascinating. :clap: :clap: :clap:

I hope there is more to come.

Re: Early History of the Area

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Thu Apr 16, 2009 5:11 pm Unread post
The de Cuiper Expedition Part 2

After crossing the Nkomati, the group passed a few more hostile kraals, later the day they came across a friendly native who offered them food and water for which they were very grateful as they had now been on foot for nearly sixty kilometers and had not eaten since the previous morning.

They pitched camp and set out sentries as they were still threatened of being killed by some of the hostile native pursuers. A message was also sent to them that anyone coming closer will be shot on sight.

After a good nights rest they set off to Chief Mabotte's kraal where they were welcomed and fed and accomodated. The next day they crossed the Matola River, after a short break they set off to Chief Mambeete's kraal where they were again well received, fed and accomodated.

The last stretch started early morning, they passed Chief Matola's kraal, then onto Chief Maphumbo's kraal where they were awaited by an NCO from Fort Lijdzaamheid, who had been sent by Jan van de Capelle to accompany them home.

Monday 16 July 1725, after having a meal of bread and arak ( palm wine ) the group set off home in high spirits. At Fort Lijdzaamheid they were heartily welcomed and well fed with many eager ears listening to their adventure. . .

Franscois de Cuiper died of malaria in 1727, the fever which also claimed the lives of many of his fellow travellers.

Jan van de Capelle was instructed in 1730 to destroy Fort Lijdzaamheid and then load all the VOC assets onto ships and to return to Cape Town. While the fort was being destroyed, van de Capelle sent out a platoon of his men under comand of Sergeant Mulder ,to defend a VOC cattle post, unfortunately Mulder split his little force and took a section out to attack the Impi and the other two sections were sent to the post in defence.

The Impi overran the Sergeant and his section, killing them all, they then followed up and slaughtered the reduced force.

The VOC held van de Capelle responsible for the death of Sergeant Mulder and his platoon and was dismissed from service in 1731 upon his return to Cape Town.

Next time you visit the southern area of KRUGER, take a drive to GOMONDWANE and view the plaque comemorating what happened there on 12 July 1725 . . . . .


Re: Early History of the KNP Area

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Fri Apr 17, 2009 12:15 pm Unread post
Early South African History.

After Jan van Riebeeck landed at Table Bay, the area prospered, and obviously many more Europeans settled in the new Dutch Colony. These settlers were mainly from the Netherlands, Germany and the Scaninavian countries, then followed the French Huguenots and in 1820 the British Settlers.

The Cape Colony was under Dutch rule for the period 1652 to 1795 from when the British ruled untill 1802, then back to Dutch rule untill 1806 when the British again took possession after the Dutch/ Napoleontic pact.

As the population grew they were awarded farms in the closer areas, this did not satisfy all the settlers and they moved further away some to the north but most to the Eastern Cape, here they met the Xhosa tribes, in the beginning the relationship was not so bad and much trading and bartering was done, later conditions changed and deteriorated to close to a never ending small war going on somewhere in the region.

The discontent with British rule grew and the emancipation of the slaves in 1834 was about as much as the newly formed Boer nation, a mixture of all the earlier mentioned settlers also of the early inhabitants and some malays was prepared to accept.

The Eastern Cape Boers decided that they were going to get away from British rule and decided to move inland this movement starting in 1835 was later referred to as The Great Trek.

There were five main groups identified under the leadership of Andries Pretorius, Gerrit Maritz and Piet Retief, this group moved into Natal and into the Orange Free State.

The other two groups were under the leadership of Hans van Rensburg and Louis Trichardt. Who for a while trekked together and then split up, both moved up to the Transvaal and into what is now Mpumalanga and also through what we today enjoy as the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK.

The Hans van Rensburg Trek

Johannes Hendrik Janse van Rensburg ( Lang Hans ) was a small group of about fifty europeans and some coloured servants. They had about ten ox wagons, five hundred head of cattle, a few thousand sheep and a few horses, who left the Eastern Cape early in 1835.

They met the Louis Trchard group also on their way to the Soutpansberg area, at the Caledon River. They trekked ahead and were later joined by the Trichard group in the Standerton area. From there they moved together to the present Middelburg early 1836.

The van Rensburg group decided to move on further north, after another argument with the Trichardt group. They reached the Soutpansberg by mid June and settled onto what is now known as the farm Welgevonden. From there van Rensburg made plans to move to Delagoabay or Inhambane and sent out patrolls to investigate possible routes. In the meantime the Trichard trek also arrived in the Soutpansberg area. One of the patrols passed by the Trichard trek on 24 June 1836 and informed them of the van Rensburg plans.

On 27 June 1836 a patrol of eleven men set out to Sofala, they got as far as Massangena on the banks of the Great Save River and then returned by end July 1836.

Van Rensburg did not remain too long at Welgevonden, he advised Louis Trchard about his plans and set of eastwards on a path between Ysterberg and the Klein Letaba River on his way to the GREAT LIMPOPO RIVER.

It has been confirmed that the route followed was WELGEVONDEN-KURULEN-GIYANI-Across the TENDE PLAINS - SHILOWASPOORT in the LEBOMBO MOUNTAINS - MAPACANE to DJINDI a distance of about 350 km. red coloured = through current KRUGER NATIONAL PARK.

The trek must have been quite comfortable as there was sufficient water and adequate grazing in the area through which they trekked.

The trek stopped at many kraals and were often received cordially and in other areas there was much hostility. It was Tsetse fly area and there must have been many eager eyes looking at the cattle and sheep.

The group on their second last outspan did so neAr the kraal of Chief Sakana, van Rensburg shot some Hippo at a nearby waterhole which he gave to the occupants of the kraal. The relationship was very good. Van Rensburg tol Sakana about his pland to move on to DJINDI, Sakana warned him of a murderous Zulu Impi marauding the area. Van Rensburg said he was not going to be stopped by the Zulus.

They then set off and trekked all day arriving quite late at DJINDI. They did not form the customery lager, each wagon parked on its own spread out over an area of about 400 metres, between the great Baobabs covering the Poruguese East African landscape . . . . . .

Late that night the trekkers were attacked by the Zulu Impi led by Induna Malitel using spears, assegais and knobkerries. The attack raged through the dark of night, early morning the trekkers ran out of amunition and the few remaining, but two children, were slaughtered by the Manukosi Impi All but the two children mentioned, of the trek, including servants lost their lives together with about thirty members of the Impi during the last week of July 1836 at the confluence of the Djindi and the Great Limpopo River in Portuguese East Africa.

Re: Early History of the KNP Area

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Sun Apr 19, 2009 10:49 am Unread post
The Lous Trchard Trek . . Part 1

The name Triegard evolved to Tregardt and Triegaard or Tegaart or Tregardt evetually Trichardt.

The Trichardt family were of Swedish descent, the father, Carel Gustavus Triegard came from the village kvidinge near Angelholm in the South West of Sweden. Being a sailor in the employ of the VOC and settled in the Cape of Good Hope approximately 1740. His children were pioneers in the history of Graaff-Reinet.

Louis Trchardt got on well with the indigenous native populations and was often consulted by them in matters concerning arguments, culture and traditions in which he was well informed, they called him " Lebese " and was often rewarded, the gift of an Elephant tusk.

Louis Trichardt was the leader of the first Voortrekkers to reach Delagoa Bay ( now Maputo ) from the Eastern Cape, a journey of approximately 2500 km. He left behind a well kept journal of the three years in the unknown wilderness.

Of the 53 trekkers who set out from the Eastern Cape, 2 died en route and did not not reach their destination, The nine ox wagons in which they set off also completed the journey, a proof of the well planned expedition under the leadership of the 52 year old,patient well orgnised Louis Trchardt. He had to keep the peace between the different families and even in families, ensure that the young men behaved themselves with the young girls, look after the ammnition, ensure that food was available, take care of the live stock and also that school master Daniel Pheffer educated the children.

On 25 December 1837 while on top of the Dakensberg. three youngsters decided that they had experienced enogh hardships and were returning to the Cape. They set off fortunately after four days of finding it not so easy, the young blood settled and they came to their senses and returned - cap or rather hat in hand, it can only be speculated what the parents did to their offspring.

After about fifteen months at the Soutpansberg and the arrival of two Portuguese guides the group decided to head towards Delagoa Bay.

They set off on 23 August 1837. Louis Tricahrdt was aware of the dangers of malaria and Tsetse fly for his fellow trekkers and the livestock, as well as the marauding Impi of Manukosi at the Limpopo ( in Mozambique ) and therefore decided to move on known tracks to a friendly Pedi Chief, Sekwati and obtain his advice on a better and safer passage to Delagoa Bay.

The trek arrived at the Balule ( now Olifants ) river on 2 October 1837, where they awaited the arrival of their friend Chief Sekwati, the information given was not very encouraging and were told that the route to Delagoa Bay was dangerous and almost impassable. Trichardt consulted with his fellow trekkers and they decided to give it a try, setting off mid October 1837.

The route decided on was following the Balul River which they had to cross 13 times in five day-quite difficuilt as then the Olifants River was free flowing - no polution or obstructing dam walls. On 2 November 1837 they decided to return to confluence of the Moetsi ( now White ) and the Balule Rivers. Here they decided to cross the Drakensberg at Mameghula, after about a month of toil they outspanned on the eastern escarpment which they called the " Green Height ".

Now the descent from the Green Heights - front wheels had to be chained-braked, rear wheels bolted to haevy logs and heavy branhes tied to the rear of the ox wagons assisted in preventing the ox wagons from tumbling down the mountains.

The group arrived at Maroelaspruit a branch of the Makhutswi on 25 January 1838, Trichardt journalised that it was their most joyfull day - after all the hardships. Here they had to repair their damaged equipment and also face the thieving members of Chief Sekororo. Some of the thieves were arrested, the word was spread that they would be released once the trekkers were satisfied that the thieving would come to an end.

The equipment all again in a servicable condition and the trekkers set off on 5 February 1838, followed by members of the Sekororo clan. The group camped on the northern banks of the strong flowing Balule and on 8 February 1838 had a visit from headman Masipana's Kraal who promised Trichard two tusks in exchange for the arresested thieves, the same evening more sheep were stolen . . . . More sheep were stolen while a few of the bandids were wounded.

Eventually on 12 February the Balule had subsided enough to attempt a crossing, it took all day, they had now crosed the river seventeen times. That evening the stock was attacked by Lions which had to be fended off by gun fire. Although now in the Tsetse fly area they had not lost any cattle but the livestock was now becoming infested by ticks.

The trek arrived on the banks of the Blyde River on 15 February 1838, due to the flooding river after heavy rains in the Drakensberge they could only cross on 19 February the present Moriah 100 where the roadway crosses the river.

Many of local population assisted the Trichardt group on their trek, offering gifts and help while doing river crossings while Trichardt was again in exchange consulted on matters concening their well being. He was even requested for references that they could offer other trekkers in the future as proof of their goodwill, these were given.

They were now estimated to still be 30 shifts from their destination - Delagoa Bay.

A further outspan was the Mabetispruit on the now farm Antioch 368, here they came across Tribal Captain Mosalie - a woman, who asked for assitance against another Tribal Captain who was trying to rob her of her authority.

The trek passed Mariepskop on the upper Klaserie on 21 February.

They outspanned on the Upper Mathimhale ( now Sand ) River on 26 February near the now Acornhoek. Trichard was now regularly consulted by the inhabitant tribal leaders about the now raging tribal probal arguments and fights in Selwatiland ( now Lebowa ) . He was well liked and a trusted person who was often offered offered gifts of ivory and food by the local leaders.

The ticks now starting taking their toll on the live stock in the form of East Coast fever ( Theiloriose ) and the first signs of ngana also appeared. Mnay livestock carcasses now remained where they had died - feeding the Hyaena, Jackals and Vultures.

The area between the Sand River and the Lebombo Mountains seems to have been well populated with wild animals as the journals written using the juices extracted from plants boiled untill dark enough to be used as an ink, often refer to Giraffes and Lions.

Heavy rains and flooding rivers delayed the movement and river crossings, the Manyeleti River was crossed on 2 March 1838 and on 4 March the Mhlowati a branch of the Sand River was reached in the current Sabie Sand Game Reserve.

The eastern border of the now KRUGER NATIONAL PARK was crossed the morning of 6 March 1838 the afternoon outspan was at the upper Lipape River where they spent two days repairing and rest and recreation. Here they were offered a gift of about 15 water melons, 3 baskets of peanuts and . . . . . . . . a RHINO HORN . . . . . . . . .

Re: Early History of the KNP Area

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Mon Apr 20, 2009 12:08 pm Unread post
The Louis Trchard trek Part . . 2

The Trekkers struck camp early on 9 March 1838 and set off towards the Vutome River, it was a hard day as the trek oxen were weakened and sick. Louis Trichardt had to restrain his hot headed son Karel, for being too liberal with the whip . . . many sheep were now dying.

The trek arrived at the kraal of chief Nonyalene at Nwamurikop east of the Vutome and Nwaswintsontso confluence. During this day they noticed Tsetse flies on the horses . . . . confirming their fears for the reason being for the dying and dead cattle and sheep. Trichardt realised that in order to survive they had to get out of the fly area as fast as conditions allowed.

Crossing the Nwaswintsontso with the weakened oxen, hauling the wagons, was a very difficuilt task. The good grazing along the banks of this fly infested area did nothing to improve the well being of the poor beasts.

Eventually after two days trekking through the Lebombo Plains they outspanned south of the Mbhatsipoort at the foot of the GREAT LEBOMBO MOUNTAINS, the afternoon of 12 March.

Crossing the LEBOMBO MOUNTAINS via the Mbahatispoort took another two days and eventually the weary group could outspan near the kraal of Tribal Captain, Clensana on the banks of the Uanetsana a branch of the Rio Uanetzi in Portuguese East Africa. Here they hunted eight Hippo of which much went to waste as it was too much for them and as they were in a hurry did not have time to cure the flesh. Along the way the trekkers came across a large herd of Elephant of which one was shot by Louis Trichardt.

Due to the condition of the animals, the last 200 km of the trek to Delagoa Bay was a long and tiresome affair. While moving along in the Uanetsana and the Uanetzi area, they hunted zebra, Impala and Blue Wildebeest.

The weary, run down group, arrived at Delagoa Bay on 13 april 1838, where the were welcomed by the Governor Capt. Antonio Gamatto, who offered them accomodation . . . .

Louis Trichards dream of finding suitable abode along the East Coast of AFRICA did not materialise as now malaria started taking it's toll of the weakened group. Eight days after their arrival the school master Daniël Pfeffer succumbed to the fever. Martha the wife of Louis Trichard died on 1 May 1838 and Louis Trichard on 25 October 1838. Soon the only survivors were the hot headed son Karel and three widows and a few children.

Trek leader Andries Pretorius became aware of the plight of the few survivors and sent the sail ship MAZEPPA to fetch them and return them. The widows and the children arrived at Port natal on 19 July 1839. Karel Trichard decided to stay behind in Delagoa Bay - where his parents and about hallf of the trekkers lay buried.

The Louis Trichard trek was not all in vain as it may seem. He befriended many of the local Native Chiefs in the Transvaal and Mozambique which made it easier for later arrivals, his well kept journals are also a vast source of information for later students , and for us . . . . .

Re: Early History of the KNP Area

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Mon Apr 20, 2009 5:16 pm Unread post
:clap: Excellent info!

It it is areal good read, even though some of us had been exposed to this before, you tend to forget. You also see the old history in new light now ...

Thanks! :thumbs_up:

You perhaps have any info on the pre-dating this history of that area as well? Trade routes and the ancient civilizations found at Shilowa, Mapungupwe, Masorini, etc? That would be just as fascinating.

Re: Early History of the KNP Area

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Wed Apr 22, 2009 1:47 pm Unread post
Before the next few postings I need to stress the importance of understanding and appreciating diversity, should someone differ from oneself it is not enough reason to condemn or to hate..

The word culture is derived from Latin = cultera = to cultivate.

Culture is an integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief and behaviour that depends on the capacity of symbolic thought and social being. A set of shared attitudes, values, goals and practises, that characterize an organization, group or institution, an ideal of human refinement. Culture bonds a certain group of humans and is derived from many years of living - once a nation abondons it culture it will fall apart.

What may follow may cause certain persons to condemn, please do not do so, we need to often understand why certain things, are done by or are more important to some than to others.

Last edited by gmlsmit on Wed Apr 22, 2009 3:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Early History of the KNP Area

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Wed Apr 22, 2009 3:25 pm Unread post
The Rain Queen.

The Karanga tribe lived in the Kingdom of Monomotapa in the south eastern district of Zimbabwe. The Monomotapa Kingdom was wealthy and also oversaw the the construction of the Great Zimbabwe.

During the latter part of the 1580's the peacefull kingdom experienced a turmoil when the son of King Monomotapa had a relationship with one of his sisters, Dzugundini. The King gave his daughter Dzugundini a "magic horn " containing herbs and other medicines to defend herself against enemies and to make rain, in order to prevent murder and civil war he ordered her to flee.

Dzugundini and her child together with a few of her supporters fled further south settling in the present Venda regions. The group grew substantially and became the Balubedo tribe which in the early 19th century moved further south under the leadership of Mugado a descendant of the original queen, settling among the peculiar " Mofaka " trees, in the valleys and on the hills of the fertile Molototsi Valley.

During the latter part of the 1800, Chief Mugado was warned by the ancestral spirits of a plot by his sons to overthrow him. To fulfill the desires of the spirits, he had all his sons killed. after the killings, Mugado told his daughter that it was the wish of the spirits that he must marry her on his death. By doing this he ensured that the new heir to his throne would be a queen, thus forming the new dynasty of a queen ruler.

Their first child was a son which in accordance with their culture, was strangled. The second child was a daughter and started the female dynasty. She was named meaning " She who has to be obeyed , or ruler of the day "

The queen lives in complete seclusion, deep in the forests, where she practises the secretive age-old rituals - to make rain. This queen was respected and sometimes feared by many of the South African naitves, including the Zulus and Swazis.

The rituals are usually performed in October. The skins of dead Rain Queens is used as part of the medicine. Apparently on death the body is left for a few days, skilled hands are then used to remove the skin. A human skull is used in the ritual - the medicine is taken from the " mehago " pots and burned in magical horns, while the rising smoke, seeds the rain clouds, called by the " Gomana " drums, a goat is sacrificed " . The belief is that the rain will fall while the magical horns are on the ground, and will stop when the Rain Queen hangs them up.

The queen may not marry a man and is tended by her wives from neareby villages. who are according to custom chosen for her by the Royal Council from the household of the subject Chiefs Her eldest daughter fathered by someone with the correct credentials, also chosen by the Royal Council, will succeed the reigning queen upon her death, through whom the old queen will live on forever . . . . .

Next time you drive through Duiwelskloof, take a bit of time and visit by previous appoinment, the Khetlhakone Village of the Balobedu Tribe in the Molototsi Valey where the Rain Queen Modjadji " she who has to be obeyed " has reigned for over two hundred years, where you can also view the magnificient " Mofaka " trees - the Modjadji cycad - Encepholartus Transvenosus. Conebearing evergreen plants dating back to the Stone age, about 60 million years ago when dinosaurs roamed the earth and fed from these fosil plants or seeked refuge from the burning sun. Of the plants you will see will be 13 metres in height.

After the visit you will also know about what had inspired Sir Rider Haggard to author his famous book " She " first published in 1880.

The ruins of the original Royal Compound are to be seen at the Lebweng village - bearing resemblance to those at Thulamela, Great Zimbabwe and Mapungubwe . . . . .

Last edited by gmlsmit on Wed Apr 22, 2009 7:54 pm, edited 3 times in total.

Re: Early History of the KNP Area

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Wed Apr 22, 2009 7:13 pm Unread post
" The Hill of the Jackal "

The Hunter gatherers roamed the river flood plains and sandstone hills of the Limpopo Valley, of their tools and paintings are still today discovered, and are evidence of the Little People communities of the Stone Age landscape.

The first communities of the early Iron Age arrived possibly 500AD, these people were the forerunners of the larger Iron Age communities who settled in the Limpopo Valley between 800AD and 1400AD.

The Hill of the Jackal was a thousand years ago the centre of the largest kingdom on the subcontinent, here a highly sophisticated people traded ivory and gold with China, India and Egypt, being on the Limpopo River it was easy for traders to reach the Hill of the Jackal.

The Hill is mainly sandstone and flat topped 30 m high and 300 m long. It is covered in soil in which the remains of houses and burnt refuse have been found.

This hill was a hive of activity untill it was abandoned in the 14th century. It was home to an advanced for the time,group of people some 5000 strong - the ancestors of the Shona people of Zimbabwe. Iit has often been described as being the root of origins of the Zimbabwean culture.

The place I am describing lies where the Shashe River flows into the Great Limpopo, it is surrounded by savannah bushveld - Mapungubwe.

Like other societies Mapungubwe was also structured along social classes. The elite lived and were even buried separately from the commoners. The elite on top of the hill with their followers at the foot.

The elite/ leaders were buried upright, in a sitting position indicating their being royalty. Gold and copper ornaments and glass beads were buried with the deceased members of royalty.

Stonewalls buttressed the slopes, and homesteads were scattered about.

The King and his warriors lived in the area near the top of the hills and were supported by their followers who swere subsistence farmers, raising both stock and crops. They lived a healthy life and also enjoyed a healthy varied diet, as proven by human remains uncovered by archeologists.

Spinners weaved fibres into cloth, they twisted and plaited ropes.

The metals mined from distant mines were brought to the trade centre where they were exchanged for whatever was needed. The metals being being Iron, Copper and Gold, were converted by Skilled Craftsmen into what they needed, the Smiths created objects for practical as well as decorative purposes, for own and trade purposes.

Pottery, wood, ivory, bone and ostrich eggshells indicate that many other materials were used and traded with the visiting traders from the distant lands.

The Smiths worked the gold into thin sheets which they then used to cover wood carved objects and held in place with gold tacks. The gold cover was then adorned by punched indentations or incised lines.

The uncovered sceptre and the famous Gold Rhinoceros, now the symbol of Mapungubwe, were possible symbols associated with a persons social standing, possibly a King. Persons were according to custom or belief buried with of his posessions.

Many discovered beads and bangles from graves on Mapungubwe hill indicate that many members of the community also decorated themselves with these objects, often also different types of gold jewelry was found in the graves of the " lower ranking " people.

Clay figurines of human figures, cattle, sheep, and even a giraffe was found. Everyday use items, such as spoons, and pots were made by the Potters of the day. They also made clay moulds, some of which were used to cast molten, glass traded beads into, these are the oldest glass objects found, made in Southern Africa.

The earlier mentioned Golden Rhinoceros is surely the most spectacular finding, it surely is the symbol of leadership and is surely one of our COUNTRIES NATIONAL TREASURES.

Today no one knows what had lead to the decline of the once centre of the greatest kingdom of the subcontinent - Mapungubwe, maybe one day some group of archeologists will find the reason and then I could continue . . . . . . . just maybe.

Re: Early History of the KNP Area

Senior Virtual Ranger
Joined: Tue Dec 25, 2007 4:52 pm
Posts: 2603
Sat Apr 25, 2009 2:06 pm Unread post
The Vhalembethu . .

Exploration of the Makahane ruins was done during 1963, with the assistance of Headman Filemon Makahane and a few of his Counsellors.

The Vhalembethu tribe built the rock surround of their kraal similiar to that of Mapungubw and The Great Zimbabwe although not as high. No mortar was used in the construction of their structures, erected on a firm surface, often rock with no foundation. The flat rocks were laid horizontaly, in an inner and paralel outer row with the cavity filled by loose smaller rocks, the walls tapering inwards, with no jointing where walls came together.

The outer structure with no decorative motives, was erected on the face of a cliff. The entrance in the outer wall is reached by a staircase, in the closed court on the upper level reached by a stairway is a seat built into the wall, inside the court, opposite the seat is the oval shaped rock covered grave of Chief Makhaane.

The original Paramount Chief Makahane lived north of the Great Limpopo River, during the 17th century. The Vhalembethu Tribe occupied the area between the Levuvhu and Mutale Rivers into Zimbabwe.

The tribe south of the river was governed by two Chiefs each ruling his own area not autonomous from the Paramount Chief across the Limpopo. Chief Makahane ruled the Valembethu tribe here along the Levuvhu River, 40 km north east of Punda Maria, during the eighteenth century.

To the west of the Makahane ruins, described above, is an area that was populated, possibly by the subjects of Chief Makahane. Here in the rubble glass beads, claypot shards and other man made objects were uncovered. Here the Vhalembethu also smelted and worked their gold, probably obtained from the Lembu working and living in the western Soutpansberg area.

The Chief dictated what was forbidden and what was to be, everything was done in accordance with a very strict protocol, even the everyday actions. While on a beer drink, deathly silence would settle as the Chief brought the pot to his lips. His living quarters were seperate from those of his followers, access was restricted to only very few of his followers, this did not bother them too much as they did not always know what was coming next.

Chief Makahane was a cruel ruler, feared by his own subjects as well as enemies.

The Chief was the ruler, chief justice and high priest. As punishment, the offender was lowered by a rope, over the rockface to the west of the ruins to a Black Stork nest halfway down. Should the nest contain a chick, the offender was retrieved after taking the chick, which was a delicacy for the chief, after handing over the chick, the offender was set free. Should there be no chick, the rope was cut and the offender plunged to his death, often becoming the meal of the giant Crocodiles frequenting the pools below.

When the hide of a slaughtered beast was dried it wasn't pegged down, instead it had to be held by the teeth of some selected unfortunates, the Chief would test the hide by hitting on it using his knobkerrie, should someone lose his grip - he was summarily hurled over rockface . . . . .

Makahane's subjects reported his cruelty to the Paramount Chief - his father.

The father was shocked by the complaints and called another of his sons, Nelombe and told him that Makahane had lost his mind and was illtreating his subjects in a way unbecoming a Chief.

Melombe was to go to Makahane's kraal and murder him, not as a Chief but as a commoner.

Nelombe and a few supporters set off across the Great Limpopo, appraoching the Makahane kraal, Nelombe started singing and dancing, Makahane sitting on his high chair in the enclosure, heard the singing and watched the approaching Melombe group. He knew that he had been reported to the Paramount Chief and feared reprisal. He feared for his life but was hoping that his fears were unnecessary. He met his brother under the Baobabs below his quarters, spread out the mats and ordered the beer.

Melombe knelt in front of his brother, surrounded by his subjects, greeting him according to custom.

Then Melombe who was very fleetfooted started his dancing and singing, watched eagerly by Makahane and his subjects. Melombe danced closer and closer, encircling Makahane, watched appreciative by all the onlookers - then - he drew his knife and carried out his instruction . . . . stabbing the chief and then cutting his throat as if slaughtering an ox . . . . .

No one of the onlookers coming to the assistance of the Chief . . . .

Nelombe ordered an ox to be slaughtered. Once it had been skinned, of the onlookers came forward to stretch the skin by their teeth as was the custom of this Makahane village. Nelombe told them to peg the hide, hereby putting an end to the cruelty of the slaughtered Makahane, assuring the population that as from then they could live a normal life.

Makahane was buried in the grave, as where he had previously instructed, although not popular, the tribe still respected their customs and made their offerings as required.

Mashande son of Makahale who suceeded his father, immediately left the site, settling in the Elim area, here his son Madadzhe was born. The Swiss missioneries started the Elim Christian Mission in 1879.

Shortly after being exposed to the Christian faith, the now aged Madadzhe decided that it was time to return to the site where his grandfather reigned and was murdered. Folklore saying that this was done to apease the spirits of his forefathers.

Shortly after arrival at the site, the spirits informed him to evacuate from the site, as too much blood had been spilt, he obeyed and with his followers resettled on the banks of the Levuvhu River.

Here at the new settlement Madadzhe was baptized by the Reverend Wessman and assumed the name of August.

After the death of August, his daughter Mkonde accepted the responsibility as guardian of the Makahadzi area where she settled in a new village at the foot the Makahadzi Kop, from where many offerings to her forefathers were made.

Drought and famine followed the discord of the forefathers, and the Vhalembethu finally left the Makahadzi Kop.

During their visit in 1963, to the site with the exploration team, the Headman first went to the oval grave, opposite the built in seat, in the upper enclosure and made a snuff offering to his forefather. Kneeling he softly and obediently said " I am here to speak to these white people, who want to learn more of you, do not be annoyed when I tell them, they want to learn, and I have to tell them the truth ". . . . . .

Maybe next time you go on the Nyalaland Trail, you should request that you visit the Makahane ruins on the Makahane Kop overlooking the Makahanepoort . . . . . . . .

Last edited by gmlsmit on Wed Apr 29, 2009 10:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

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