Happy folk em­braced by gi­ants

BLOU­BERG FULL OF SUR­PRISES

Sowetan - - GOOD LIFE - Tumo Mokone tmokone20@gmail.com

SOUTH Africa has sev­eral towns that were founded at the sites of hos­pi­tals started by Chris­tian mis­sion­ar­ies.

Sen­wabar­wana (for­merly known as Bochum) in Lim­popo is one clas­sic ex­am­ple. This town is sit­u­ated where the Ber­lin Mis­sion­ary So­ci­ety was sta­tioned, hence the Ger­man name Bochum, and next to where the He­lena Franz Hos­pi­tal still stands to­day.

Some sign­boards and of­fi­cial doc­u­ments call her “He­lene ” or “He­len ”. Dur­ing my trip I could not es­tab­lish if Franz was a mission worker, wife or daugh­ter of one of the mis­sion­ar­ies, like the case of Jane Furse, also in Lim­popo.

Jane Furse Hos­pi­tal, which gave birth to the town of the same name, was named af­ter the daugh­ter of Angli­can Church mis­sion­ary rev­erend Michael Furse.

The se­cu­rity guard told me he didn ’ t know who He­lena Franz was be­cause he was new at the job, but ad­mit­ted to grow­ing up in the area. Well, two weeks later I found out that she was the wife of mis­sion­ary Carl Franz.

How­ever, there ’ s no deny­ing my sur­prise at the brisk trade at the seem­ingly fast-de­vel­op­ing town of Sen­wabar­wana. Lo­cals spoke about their re­lief at not hav­ing to travel all the way to Polok­wane, which is 85km south of here, for shop­ping.

Apart from be­ing the com­mer­cial cen­tre, Sen­wabar­wana is also the po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tal of the Ba­Hananwa peo­ple of the Male­bogo chief­taincy. This area holds great tourism po­ten­tial, due to its ap­peal­ing to­pog­ra­phy and her­itage.

Granted, I had heard of the leg­end of war­rior King Male­bogo and his Hananwa tribe but I had al­ways imag­ined a place with rugged ter­rain, blighted by poverty.

What a pleas­ant sur­prise to meet ra­di­ant, en­er­getic peo­ple, who took their daily strug­gles with the wa­ter sup­ply in their stride.

Al­most all vil­lages over­look Blou­berg moun­tain range and Mak­gabeng Plateau, which form a con­cave shape, as if th­ese two an­ces­tral moun­tains are locked in em­brace over Male­bogo vil­lages.

There are a few other vil­lages be­hind the moun­tain­ous em­brace, such as El­do­rado and GaMa­bele­bele. Th­ese how­ever en­joy the cool­ing shade of the moun­tains.

From afar the two moun­tains ap­pear to be part of the same range, largely be­cause Mak­gabeng fades closer to the south­west­ern end of Blou­berg. But both ranges hold sig­nif­i­cant his­tor­i­cal ac­counts for the Hananwa peo­ple.

King Male­bogo ’ s last stand against the Voortrekkers was in the cas­tle-like rocky out­crops on Blou­berg. His peo­ple sought refuge in the Ta­ble Moun­tain looka­like, Mak­gabeng, where they found im­preg­nable cav­erns to hide from their Boer con­querors.

A pass be­tween the two moun­tains al­lows for a road head­ing to vil­lages closer to the bor­der of Botswana, where the Hananwa orig­i­nate from.

While Mak­gabeng, which still has signs of the peo­ple ’ s habi­ta­tion dur­ing the siege, in­clud­ing rock art, av­er­ages a mere 900m, Blou- berg ’ s high­est point is 2 040m.

This is also the high­est point in the en­tire Sout­pans­berg range that Blou­berg is part of.

Tour guides from ar­eas close to the moun­tains are avail­able for Mak­gabeng climbs, with guided tours around the Blou­berg foothills of­fered by Ser­aki Blou­berg Route.

In Mak­gabeng the Han­wana rock paint­ings, hailed as South Africa ’ s first protest art, can be viewed.

The Ser­aki Blou­berg route at the foothills of the Blou­berg of­fers pleas­ant ex­plo­ration of the im­pres­sive hills and life in ad­join­ing vil­lages. The deep cul­tural her­itage of the Han­wana and the nat­u­ral beauty of their place are ex­posed along the way.

The Blou­berg Na­ture Re­serve and the com­mu­nity-owned Male­boch Na­ture Re­serve nearby of­fer game drives, camp­ing sites and ac­com­mo­da­tion in chalets.

Other vis­i­tors to the area can utilise vil­lage sleep-overs. The big­ger vil­lage of My Dar­ling, out­side the re­serve, is highly rec­om­mended for its more vi­brant com­mu­nity life, and worth a visit if only be­cause of its un­usual name.

My Dar­ling is seen as the cul­tural cap­i­tal of the Hananwa. Life here and in other vil­lages is still sim­ple and ru­ral but cer­tainly not rustic, more so af­ter mass elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of the area in re­cent years.

The tourism sec­tor in th­ese parts of Lim­popo is still de­vel­op­ing but al­ready there are good places pro­vid­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion.

Among th­ese are Mak­gabeng Farm Lodge, which or­gan­ises hikes to the plateau, while Motlele Lodge and Bakone Mathekga Lodge are in Sen­wabar­wana town.

PHO­TOS: TUMO MOKONE

WA­TER BLUES: Lu­cas Papole of Mon­galo vil­lage uses his don­key cart, and help from a cou­ple of lit­tle hands, to fetch wa­ter for res­i­dents at a fee. Though he earns some in­come for his busi­ness, he com­plained bit­terly over the scarcity of wa­ter in GaMale­bogo

THIS WAY, DAR­LING: While Sen­wabar­wana is the com­mer­cial cen­tre, My Dar­ling, out­side Male­boch Na­ture Re­serve, is the cul­tural cap­i­tal of the Ba-Hananwa

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