Resentment about this has been brewing for years. Maskanda music legend Phuzekhemisi captured this collective ire of rural folk in his 1992 hit Imbizo. In it he questions why traditional leaders are forcing people to pay annual tribal levies.
The hearings also provided insight into how izinyanga, sangomas and herbalists, who rely on plants to cure people, are affected. Studies have shown that the majority of black South Africans rely on traditional medicine.
Sangoma Fikile Kunene said she supports expropriation and hopes it will help to resolve the difficulties faced by many of her colleagues who want access to sacred sites, which are on privately owned land. Owning land would also afford traditional healers the opportunity to grow the plants, she said.
The hearings are also serving as a barometer for political parties to gauge their support. The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which appears to have done more groundwork than the other parties to prepare its supporters for the hearings, resonated with many of those who attended, with both young and old pledging their loyalty to party leader Julius Malema, who is a member of the parliamentary committee. Some of the elders became emotional, telling the committee they never thought they would ever get to see Malema in the flesh.
Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota, who clashed with Malema in Limpopo last week, has had a torrid time, and many people have accused him of selling out his principles and black people by joining ranks with white-aligned political parties and farmers’ organisations that oppose expropriation without compensation.
The ANC, which didn’t have much of a presence in the Limpopo leg of the hearings, enjoyed huge support in Mpumalanga.
The Democratic Alliance also had a presence among black youths, who appeared to be more interested in the free blue T-shirts and the party’s sponsored meals at lunchtime than in the deliberations.
But if the sentiments expressed during the hearings are anything to go by, it appears the EFF and Malema, who was even compared with the biblical leader Moses by one speaker, have won the hearts of many land-hungry black people, who hope they can deliver on the promise of restoring land to them. — Mukurukuru Media
Pylon as tombstone: Mthakathi Simon Makhanya (right) visits the gravesite of his father, Langwane Jandluma Makhanya, on what used to be the family farm where cattle and goats would graze freely. In 1954, government bulldozers moved in and the Makhanya family was dumped ‘in the bush’ more than 50km away.