Marula festival fever grows
Tourists to flock to the province for celebrations
NEVER in the history of Marula Festival has the region of Sekhukhune in Limpopo generated so much fanfare. For the first time, the festivities of this annual Marula season were launched on the land of the legendary King Sekhukhune, the warrior who led daring combats during the Mfecane and Difaqane tribal wars.
The aroma of the marula fruits is enough to tantalise one’s taste buds as plans are well afoot to stage the 13th edition of the annual Marula Festival scheduled for Phalaborwa from January 28 to March 31.
Activities include a street carnival, 4x4 challenge, community marathon, trade fair and exhibition, youth rugby, youth festival, career expo, gold challenge and a jazz festival at Ingwe Park.
Limpopo province spends the entire year preparing for the festival to coincide with harvest season of February right through to the end of March.
The partnership of several stakeholders like SEDA, Limpopo Tourism Agency, Limpopo Development Agency, Ba-Phalaborwa Municipality, Mopani District Municipality, Office of the Premier, National Department of Arts and Culture, Phalaborwa Tourism Agency and Kruger National Park use the period as an opportunity to celebrate the Marula Cultural Heritage as well as identify activities
that assist the province’s economic development.
The Festival of the First Fruit, the Marula Festival – “Ku LumaNguva”/ “Go Loma Morula– is a heritage phenomenon which is performed by traditional leaders at the beginning of the Marula Season.
It is a heritage practice that precludes any drinking of the Marula
beverage before traditional leaders have blessed the season.
The town of Phalaborwa, because of its tourism profile and close proximity to other major tourist destinations including the world’s renowned Kruger National Park (KNP), has been declared a permanent home for hosting the annual Marula Festival.
Dubbed the “town of two summers” because it never really gets cold in this subtropical town of mild winters and warm summers, Phalaborwa enjoys average day temperatures of 23°C and is the ideal year-round holiday destination.
The town has a well-developed infrastructure, a top-class airport and golf course, a wide variety of tourists’ accommodation, tourism products and numerous game lodges in close proximity.
It is easily packaged with products around Hoedspruit, Tzaneen, Modjadjiskloof, Magoebaskloof and Giyani.
This location and setting make the Marula Festival a major attraction for domestic and international tourists.
This year’s edition is a sequel to several other festivals since 2006 and every year the event attracts more and more people from various corners of the country and partners from the Southern African Development Community.
Revellers will also be treated to a music festival that will run for two weeks featuring among others, Salif Keita, Kelly Price, Amanda Black, Penny Penny, Selaelo Selota, Thomas Chauke, Ringo, Dr.Tumi, King Monada, Worship House and Candy.
Limpopo MEC for Economic Development, Environment and Tourism, Seaparo Sekoati said: “The festival is actually growing and this year it will only be better and we are hoping that people will as well leave their homes to come and be part of this activity.
With international guests from Cuba, Venezuela, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia, Sekoati said, “The festival is aimed at developing sustainable local economy through various models of industry development.
Sekoati went on to say: “The Marula Festival is a draw card to attract domestic, regional and international tourists to Limpopo during the marula season.
“To develop the festival as a marketable brand for Limpopo, a fact-finding mission was carried out to Germany at the Munick Oktoberfest two years ago in an endeavour to enhance knowledge and skills on how related festivals can successfully be conducted in a sustainable manner.”
POSITIVE: Limpopo MEC for Economic Development, Environment and Tourism, Seaparo Sekoati.