There is a very wise woman who works at Londolozi, one of the strongest women I know. She has seen a lot in her life and knows a great deal about village life, the beautiful Shangaan culture and how it takes a village to raise a child.
This incredibly warm soul, Lina Lamula, knows her passion and shares it with us every day, I thought we could get to know a bit more about Lina’s Londolozi journey.
Lina was born into a family of 7 children; she was the 4th, born near White River and growing up in Giyani in the Limpopo province. Lina learnt a lot about her tribe and culture from her father. When Lina talks about her upbringing and early years she reiterates that it was not an easy time for her; life was hard. The children grew up only with their father and moved about a lot. When we chat she reminds me of the hard times continuously but always follows on with, “Life teaches us lessons so that we can move forward”
Lina is now the proud grandmother of a beautiful granddaughter Candice who she passes all these wonderful stories on to as often as she can. Her son worked at Londolozi briefly, painting some of the fun murals on all of our staff houses. This is something you will notice on a village walk as they are all relative to what each person living in the house does. The trackers houses have animals and footprints on them while the houses of the chefs are adorned with pots and pans!
Lina says that her life changed in 1991. She arrived at Londolozi. Lina was employed to be the preschool teacher and from what I am told it sounds as though she brought a lot of structure and organisation to the school.
There were lots of older children who stayed at Londolozi back then – nowadays the children all go out to a formal school but back then the little ones were often seen around the marula tree in the learning centre (that you will walk past on the village walk). That was the class room. Eventually through donations the now “learning centre” became Lina’s class room!
Lina says “When I arrived, I was just Lina…”. In 1996 londolozi sent Lina on a number of different courses, one of which was a preschool/day care diploma. Lina learnt a huge amount from these courses as well as spending some time at Ngala game reserve teaching children there, and also looking at how the schools differ from area to area and – back then – lodge to lodge. Some of Lina’s fondest memories of this period was taking the children on a tour to St. Lucia. “No one had ever seen the sea, including myself! For the first few days I would not let the other teacher, Jenny, take the children anywhere near the water, she thought I was crazy!”
It turns out Lina ended up spending 19 years nurturing our special Londolozi children and helping to shape them into the fabulous young adults they are today! Preparing them for school and ensuring they were ready to take on the world.
Lina started our Londolozi women’s choir along with a number of other ladies in 1992, three of whom are still here and singing today! She looks back on the choir formation and performances over the years here as some of her happiest memories “I love singing; it just makes you happy”, she said, beaming!
Lina’s roles have shifted over the years and she is now the hostess of the world-famous village walk. We don’t want to give it all away but it is a tour offered at Londolozi that allows for some insight into how Londolozi works, the ins and outs of our village life and lots of culture and history of the Shangaan tribe. Sometimes Lina will give a brief description of what happens when you visit a sangoma – a traditional healer. Lina is not a sangoma herself but her aunt is and from her Lina has learnt what is used for what – she collected a bunch of shells, because they were beautiful, on one of her trips to St. Lucia with the preschool children all those years ago, and those very shells now form part of her demonstration along with a number of other bones and artefacts! She also helps run our Londolozi food gardens and craft centre.
When I asked Lina what she loved most about living and working at Londolozi her answer was a very solid one. She said that she loved the continuous education, “But it is not about the writing… learning about following dreams and motivation, learning about health care, and how important education is”. She also loves it here because of the people: “We live here like family, we are close to each other, not like anywhere else. We are in home, my brother, my sister.”
If you visit Londolozi you will be met by the friendly warm smile of the wonderful Lina, she will be waiting to greet you all on a village walk, the last one to leave the boma after a fierce performance in the choir, have organised your beautiful fresh greens to get from our village food gardens to your plate and she most definitely would have found her way into your hearts the moment you meet her.
I am fortunate enough to work alongside this star every day and each day I learn more and more. Lina, thank you so much for taking me under your wing when I arrived here 9 years ago, as you did, to teach in the preschool and show me the Londolozi way! Working in the village with you every day is such a treat. What a journey you have had! Thank you for sharing it with us!