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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.