Today is Heritage Day in South Africa. It is a day that we celebrate the myriad of cultures that make up this astonishing rainbow nation. Over the course of this land’s history, there have been numerous different people, tribes, groups and individuals who have contributed their heritage and way of life to this rich tapestry of culture.  Indeed it is because of this historical melting pot of culture that the fabric of South African life is such a rich quilt of diversity, both across the nation and more specifically in the region surrounding the Kruger National Park.

It would, however, be wrong to suggest that the history of the Kruger National Park began when the president of the Transvaal province, Paul Kruger, muted the idea that land should be set aside for the preservation of wildlife. As part of this narrative, conservation has incorrectly become associated with colonialism and oppression via the creation of game reserves where animals were kept in and people were kept out. Upon further investigation, it becomes apparent that this is an oversimplification of a very rich and diverse history which is deeply seated in connections to the land and its wild animals. Ours is a history of kingdoms and communities which date back thousands of years before the arrival of European settlers into Africa.

Indeed trade with India, China and, more recently East Africa, between societies such as the Bokoni, which were established in the region over 600 years ago, was commonplace. The fingerprints of these historic civilisations can be found in the Lydenburg area where traces of the interlinking homesteads of the Bokoni people can still be seen. Sekhukhuneland still stands today as the headquarters of the Pedi Kingdom and to the northeast part of South Africa one finds the rich traces of the remarkable kingdoms of Mapungubwe/Tulamela and the headquarters of the Venda Kingdom of Dzata.

A conversation with the people of this region will uncover the fascinating concept of totem animals and, still to this day, one can find traces of the oral history of a rich bygone era which promises once again to be brought to life as we unlock the diverse and wonderful heritage of our country. One of the descendants from this melting pot of history was a man called S J Khoza whose family hailed from the eastern seaboard of Africa and who found himself living in the Acornhoek area of what is now the Mpumalanga province. He was born at a time when oppression and political divide prevailed in this country, yet his indomitable spirit allowed him to become a composer of over 850 songs causing those to refer to him as the Mozart of Africa. Through his songs he demonstrated a deep resonance and connection with nature and even as an outsider, overlooking the political theatre of the time, S J Khoza wrote and sang about the beauty of the wild lands that surrounded his homestead.

The award-winning Shalati Joseph Khosa (SJ) lived primarily for music. A broad array of themes inspired his compositions. Culture and tradition provided him with an abundant range of songs to arrange and sparked new culture-based folk songs.

Recently Londolozi has collaborated with Dr. Reuel Khoza in an effort to pay tribute to this great composer, honour his passing and revive his musical artistry. The first of this collaboration is an album entitled ‘Mahlori Ya Londolozi’ with a song entitled ‘The Limpopo Transfrontier Park’.

In Limpopo there is to be found
An animal park
In Limpopo
There is a Transfrontier park
From South Africa to Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe to Mozambique
These countries are beckoning, proclaiming
Come, come to see the ‘Big 5’
Lush vegetation, birds, animals & lodges
These are found in super-abundance
At this Transfrontier park

– Limpopo Transfrontier Park / SJ Khosa

2

SJ was also a keen lover of nature and a nature conservation enthusiast. As an artist, he tended to see more in the fauna and flora they observed. Each excursion into a national park or game lodge inspired several songs with an animal motif or themed around the marvels of nature.

The land around where SJ Khosa lived, had become fragmented and disjointed so when he witnessed the creation of the Transfrontier Park, a 6m acre mosaic area of uninterrupted wilderness, he wrote the above song.  The words of this song remind us that the value of cooperation between people prevails over the short term benefits of oppression and that magnanimity, co-creation and grace are tenets we should be building our future on. These tenets, in turn, lead to the preservation of flora & fauna which provide a sanctuary and retreat for travelers from around the world to visit this park and discover the wonders of nature. Travelers to the Kruger National Park participate in the creation of a viable Economy of Wildlife which in turn allows for the preservation and honouring of past histories and cultures which represented a rich and diverse human spirit.

The bold white border shows the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park as it stands today. The white diagonal shaded area is what the project hopes to include in the conservation area in the years to come. Picture from www.peaceparks.org

It has always been a belief that Londolozi should celebrate and promote the arts, culture, and heritage of the Shangaan people who originate from this region. This collaboration has brought together the raw musical talent of the Mkhuhlu Chorale, Dr. Reuel Khoza with a wide knowledge and understanding of culture and history, and the composing, arranging and musical production expertise of Mark Cheyne, powerfully backed by the Electric Pops Orchestra.

mkhuhlu-chorale-web

The Mkhuhlu Chorale is a choir which was founded in 1984 in the Bushbuckridge, Mkhuhlu, Hazyview area of the Mpumalanga province of South Africa and represents also a socially inspired endeavor which has nurtured young talent directing them towards a full-time career in music or media.  The choir regularly competes in music festivals across South Africa and has, on a number of occasions, won awards for their performances.

This album is an opportunity to preserve and promote South Africa’s precious musical heritage. These musical arrangements revere nature, extoll ancient folklore and mystery and are inspired by Africa’s people, scenery, wild animals, and ecosystems, all of which can be found within Londolozi, the Limpopo Transfrontier Park and neighbouring community villages. The overarching message of the music is the importance of harmony, humility, humanity, nature and the environment.

It is, therefore, with great joy that we now proudly present to you, the fifth song on the album, The Limpopo Transfrontier Park No.2 which celebrates the Transfrontier Park, which is a joint venture between Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and South Africa.

S J Khosa Mahlori Ya Londolozi Mkhuhlu Chorale and the Electric Pops Orchestra

Click on the album cover to view, purchase or gift the album in iTunes.

About the Author

Rich Laburn

Head of Digital

Rich is the driving force behind Londolozi’s online storytelling and the Londolozi blog. His passions of digital media, film and photography, combined with his field-guiding background, have seen him take the Londolozi blog to new heights since he began it in 2009. Rich ...

View Rich's profile

3 Comments

on Heritage Day: The Limpopo Transfrontier Park

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Marinda Drake

Love the history if our country and the Lowveld. Just read Footprints – On the trail for those who made history in the Lowveld. A wonderful read. Love the music. It speaks to my African heart.

Callum Evans

A brilliant read, a soulful song, and a stunning cover photo! Are there any plans afoot to form a corridor bewteen Limpopo and Banhine?

Michael & Terri Klauber

Rich, Thanks for the special reminder and history lesson about the magic that has been created by brilliant dreamers!

Connect with Londolozi

Follow Us

Sign up for our newsletter

One moment...
+
Add Profile