A New Rain Queen Is Crowned in South Africa

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Traditionally, the people of Africa have lived with their environment. It is embedded in their culture and their genes. Housing was made from natural materials as was clothing. Planting, cattle raising, and hunting were done in a sustainable way. The people of Africa never took too much from their environment and always gave thanks when they were blessed with good fortune whether it was a successful hunt, recovery from illness or good rains.

Saturday the 7th of April 2018 marks a significant event in the preservation of tradition and culture of the Balobedo people who number 2 million strong and hail from Northern Limpopo, a province in the North of South Africa. A new Queen, Queen Modjadji  VII, also more commonly known as the Rain Queen, will be crowned today.

The Balobedo people, known as the Lobedu, are a unique people in that they have traditionally been ruled by a woman in the form of a Queenship for hundreds of years. Their Queens are said to have special rainmaking powers.

Their monarchy is a story of much hardship under the evil apartheid regime that stripped them of their land and did not recognise their Kingdom. The apartheid government even went as far as to denounce their ruling Queen in 1972. Sadly, the last Rain Queen died on 12 June 2005.

Thankfully the Balobedo people have been reinstated by the ANC government. The former president, Jacob Zuma announced the recognition of their Queenship in 2016 and today a new Rain Queen will be officially recognised. South Africa’s current president, Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa, will be attending the inauguration.

The new Rain Queen, Masalanabo Modjadji comes from a lineage going back to the 16th century. The young queen turns 13 this year and is believed to have inherited rain making powers from her mother. Traditionally, the young Queen does not speak publicly rather; her male advisory council members or her maids in waiting speak on her behalf. You will seldom see her in the public eye.

The special coronation finds South Africa in a prolonged drought, none more so than in The Waterberg, Cape Town, East London and Port Elizabeth where dams have reached crisis levels. Taps are set to run dry if there are no good rains in these regions.

The Balobedu people and indeed all the indigenous people of Africa can be proud of their culture and traditions. Preserving such heritage reminds us all of the time when the people of Africa lived with their environment and were at one with nature. Climate change is forcing us to look back at such a way of living in a modern context and if the new Rain Queen can bring rain to regions of prolonged drought, all the better.

Author: Bryan Groenendaal


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