Tshamahanzi (where I found Patience)  

Posted by Smoke in ,

Before I start, a few words.

LOCATION: Black settlements outside towns introduced by the apartheid government. The name is still being used and is often referred to as 'kasi'

KGOSHI: the tribal king to the area, that is still used. They have a direct link to government.

INDUNA: the tribal chief to a village. He is the direct link to the Kgoshi.

SANGOMA: a traditional healer that find their roots in ancestral tradition.

INYANGA: very much the same as sangomas but are usually associated with magic.

SHABEEN: an illegal or unlicensed drinking place. The name is of an Irish origin.

K.B: this is the local name for traditional beer, brewed from Sorgum. I enquired from one of the locals what K.B stands for and he informed me it stands for "kaffir* beer"

TAXI: this is nothing like the New York or London variety. This is actually a mass transport system that makes use of mini busses.

SPAZA: these are small home based tuck shops that sells mostly bread cigarettes and sweets.

* KAFFIR: this is an apartheid era word of a derogatory nature, and you could actually land in jail for using it in its insulting form. It seems to be used as a joke among locals in some situations.




I work in deepest darkest Africa. In a village that is part of a location, outside a town in the Limpopo province, a mere 300km north of the bustling metropolis of Johannesburg, South Africa.

The location is called Mahwelereng. This is a rich, vibrant town, that plays home to a predominant black community. It is also the heart of the surrounding rural, tribal villages that are ruled over by the Kgoshi. Mahwelereng as a town is fairly urbanised and was at one time home to a then Glorious, now abandoned Hotel, which I could only imagine, played host to swinging 40's styled parties. But that is a whole different blog on its own.

Now Tshamahanzi on the other hand....

...Rich and vibrant are words you could use to describe it, but only if you are the kind of person who uses the word cheese to describe the moon and flat a word for the world. You see, Tshamahanzi was built on the side of hill in the middle of the bush, and as legend has it, it was done in quite a hurry. Apparently,and this is just rumoured, a few years ago ( between 30 and 60 years ago ) the people of Moshate village, home to the throne, went to the Kgoshi and complained about the Tsonga/Shangane people, who at that time lived there. The Moshate people was mostly BaSotho and BaPedi and they were not happy with the Shangane culture of traditional "magic" and there Sangomas and Inyangas. So to halt the threat of violence, the Kgoshi arranged for a place for the Shangane people, in the distant mountains. The place now known as Tshamahanzi.

Tshamahanzi as a village, is governed under three Indunas. The village has one clinic and six schools, both primary and secondary. Even though this is such a poor community, there are a generous amount of taverns and shabeens, as drinking seems to be a favourable past time. You can buy your pint of "K.B" at most of them.

Transportation consist mostly of taxis and donkey carts. There are, the employed and richer individuals, who own cars but not that many, as this is a largely unemployed community.

Infra structure are on the rise. As all homes have access to electricity even though electric cables are sometimes stolen for the sale of copper. Some houses now have direct water access though many households still depend on the good old wheelbarrow and water drums at the communal taps. The main road that runs around Tshamahanzi, has only recently been upgraded to tarmac. Gravel roads, often rocky, are still being used. The one thing this rural village still lacks is a working sewerage system. Outside Pit toilets are still being used even though it poses a health risk.

Tshamahanzi is home not only to the shangane, but to a few ethnic groups. Legal as well as illegal foreigners make there homes here, including Zimbabwean, Nigerian, Somalian and Indian nationals. The latter two groups mostly own or manage the few larger shops in Tshamahanzi, though you will find plenty of spazas owned by the locals. These shops are highly successful as the people don't always have the means to travel the twenty odd kilometres to civilisation. These shops stock everything, from everyday groceries to building supplies and equipment. Livestock is found in the form of donkeys, cattle and goats and it shouldn't be strange to find any of them moving freely on the streets. Often you find corn crops growing in back yards as Many of the locals are substance farmers. It is usually cheaper to grow your own then to buy maize meal.

I come to work everyday and sit in my little caravan to listen to the problems of these people. It is mostly serious but often there are the silly ones. Their issues are sometimes more important to them, than I would think. But I have learned to be patient with them even after communication has broken down, we still find a way to a solution.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 4:00 PM and is filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

3 comments

Will we ever meet Patience? Please tell us more about your workplace and the people who live there - sounds like many things to learn and many things to experience.

September 15, 2009 at 9:33 PM

Read about BOBBY DANGER: RURAL POLICE. Patience might make an appearance.

September 15, 2009 at 10:26 PM

Wow, Smoke! I could almost see Tshamahanzi through your writing. What exactly is it that you do there? Please tell us more.

September 16, 2009 at 2:32 PM

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