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The realm of the rain queen Modjadji and the Bolovedus

Cycad Forest of the rain queen Modjadji accommodation, activities...

During the 16th century the Karanga tribe in what is now Zimbabwe came under pressure. It was then that a royal princess and some followers left the area in order to start a new kingdom further South. In her luggage the princess brought all utensils and the knowledge of rainmaking!
When these travellers passed the Duivelskloof area they were impressed by the magic of a cycad forest
(pre-historic plants). They chose to rest there and start a new kingdom. Modjadji, as the Bolovedu people named their rain queen, soon became famous tKraal near Modjadji Cycad Reservehroughout the region. People from as far as Swaziland and Zululand came in order to make her pray for rain. Everybody imagined her as sacred, therefore the Bolovedues were never attacked by other tribes.
There are many stories and myths about Modjadji and her people. Furthermore it is the only tribe in Southern Africa reigned by a woman.
Today most of the Bolovedus live in the former homeland Modjadji near Tzaneen and Duivelskloof.
A visit to Queen Modjadji’s cycad forest is a must while staying in Letaba District.
The history and tradition of Queen Modjadji
is mainly dedicated in Tzaneen museum.

In June 2001 a tragedy amongst the Bolovedus happened.
It was reported that when Modjadji V passed away on June 28 -during the dry season- it started to rain for two days. Her direct successor, the daughter of the rain queen Maria Modjadji, had died two days before and so it took two years to determine the new rain queen, the daughter of Maria Modjadji.
It was in April 2003 when Makobo Modjadji was inaugurated as the youngest rain queen ever (25 years). Many people and politicians came to watch the ceremony. And something strange happened - just during the inauguration it started to drizzle after a long drought! A good start for the new queen…
But the reign of Modjadji VI lasted for only two years. On June 10 in 2003 she was brought to the hospital in Polokwane. Only two days later, on June 12, she passed away. Officially she died of “chronic meningitis”. Others said that she was poisoned because the royal committee didn’t believe that she could handle the difficulties of her royal mission. Employees of the hospital explained that she died on aids.
Some people are certain that she passed away because of a broken heart. Her lover who was not accepted by the royal committee was banned from the royal village. Also her direct successor, her daughter born in January 2003, was not accepted either.
Up to now the question is still open, if the 400 years old tradition of the rain queen Modjadji can be carried on…

Rain Queens of Modjadji

  • Maselekwane Modjadji I. 1800 - 1854
  • Masalanabo Modjadji II. 1854 - 1895
  • Khetoane Modjadji III. 1896 - 1959
  • Modjadji IV. 1959 - 1980
  • Mokope Modjadji V. 1981 - 2001
  • Makobo Modjadji VI. 2003 - 2005
Tourism offers
map 8/3. Limpopo Esc.
A. Kings Walden Lodge
B. Tzaneen Country Lodge

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3. Limpopo Escarpment: 1. Duivelskloof/a Big Baobab/ b Medingen 2. Hans Merensky Nature Reserve 3. R 36
4. rain queen Modjadji, cycads 5. R71-b Magoebaskloof Pass/c tea/6 George's Valley 7. Tzaneen

map 8: 1. Bushveld & Pilanesberg 2. Kruger National Park 3. Limpopo Escarpment 4. Limpopo Lowveld 5. Madikwe Game Reserve
6. Panorama Route 7. Soutpansberg... Zimbabwe additional info A 1 EN 1 N1/a Polokwane, Bakone Malapa N 11

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