The motion passed in Parliament on Tuesday allowing for the constitution to be amended to allow land expropriation without compensation has sparked fierce debate about the legal and financial ramifications for property owners, especially farmers.Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)

During the Middle Ages (500-1500), African people in central and southern Africa had already founded what were known as the Sudanic states.
These were theocratic states held together by a spiritual ideology which held that human races were born of one god and that their mother was the moon (ma/maia) and their father was the sun (RA). All human races, black and white, were born of the union (mara/maria) of the moon(ma/maia) and the sun (RA).

This sun-centred philosophy did not admit of racism, patriarchy and inequality of races and sexes. The rulers of these Sudanic states were women and/or men who were sacred (or divine) rulers.

The rulers founded empires such as the Zandjii Monomugi Bakongo, Mapungubwe and Great Zimbabwe.The sacred (or divine) rulers of these empires regarded the land as the common wealth from god that they held in trust for their subjects.

Thus communal ownership, and individual rights were not known. The rulers ensured that all subjects had an equitable share of land for agriculture, including grazing and housing. All subjects had access to land. There was, therefore, peace, stability and prosperity throughout the African continent.

A British member of parliament correctly observed on February 2, 1835 that he had travelled from Cape to Cairo and never met a beggar or thief, nor people of such low ethical and moral character. Lord Macaulay advised the British parliament that in order to conquer Africa and control her people, it was imperative to destroy their spiritual and cultural heritage and make them accept and regard everything that was English as superior and better.

Besides this cultural imperialism, the European settlers believed that African people were sub-human beings. Thus they came not only to destroy the spiritual and cultural heritage of African people, but also to enslave them and forcibly dispossess them of their land. It is against this background that land dispossession has always been, and remains, the only original sin that Africans know.

That African people waged wars of resistance against slavery and colonialism but were defeated and forcibly dispossessed of their land is well documented. The fact that their conquerors made the land and its natural resources their own without paying a cent to the indigenous African people is also irrefutable.

In South Africa, the British and the Boers fought between themselves for the conquered African territories. In the first Anglo Boer War (1880-81) rightly known as the South African War, African people fought both sides, hoping that in the event of victory they would regain their civil and political rights.

But at the end of the war, the British and the Boers reconciled at the expense of the African people, completely ignoring them in the political dispensation.

The Transvaal Republic passed the Land Occupation Act that empowered the European settlers to seize any part of the country that they desired to have. This act sparked the Modjadji wars of resistance in Limpopo.

In the Land of Tributes (Vulubedu), Queen Masalanabo Modjadji, for instance, incited all her senior traditional leaders to rise against the Europeans who entered her land from the city of Polokwane, then known as Pietersburg.

Queen Masalanabo Modjadji appointed Khosi Makgoba as a military commander. She instructed these senior traditional leaders who lived in the border area to bring their cattle, women and children south of Vulobedu mountain range and take up arms against European settlers who entered her land from the city of Polokwane.

The white settlers formed commandos to fight against Queen Masalanabo and Makgoba’s warriors. These warriors put up a fierce resistance and forced the white settlers to flee to Polokwane.

In the meantime, the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) broke out.

During this, the Valobedu and Batlananwa of Maleboho and other African people fought on the side of the British, hoping that in the event of victory, they would regain their land, civil and political rights.

The British used African people as cannon fodder during this war.

At the end of the second Anglo-Boer War (1902), the British and the Boers concluded the treaty of Vereeniging, which institutionalised racism. Thus Africans were betrayed by the British for the second time.

After the Anglo-Boer War, Lord Alfred Milner, the British High Commissioner, appointed the Lagden Commission to investigate the territorial segregation between whites and black people.

The commissioner recommended that Africans should be forcibly moved into native reserves, which were barren, while they occupied the fertile parts of the land.

Queen Masalanabo Mudjadji’s warriors continued their resistance against occupation of the land by white settlers. King Maleboho also continued the war of resistance, assisted by Queen Masalabao Mudjadji and King Makhado of the Vhavenda.

Mudjadji and Makgoba put up such fierce resistance that many white settlers abandoned their occupation farms and fled to Polokwane.

General Piet Joubert mobilised the Boer commandos from all over the Transvaal to wage the war against the rain queen and her senior traditional leaders. The kommandos’ general, Piet Joubert, was assisted by the Swazi and Shangaan warriors.

The rain queen, Makgoba and Maleboho were defeated towards the end of the second half of the 19th century.

The rain queen and Maleboho surrendered, while Makgoba took refuge in the mountains.The Swazi warriors found him and beheaded him, and handed his head to the Transvaal Republic. Even today, the head has not been found.

When Queen Masalanabo Mudjadji learned of the death of Chief Makgoba, her military commander, she committed suicide.The Transvaal Republic appointed her elderly sister as the rain queen.

The Valobedu rejected her and after her mysterious death, they appointed Queen Khesetwane Mudjadji as their rightful sacred ruler.

Queen Khesetwane allowed the German missionary who had betrayed the Valovedu during the war to build a Lutheran church at Khethagoni, but refused to be converted to Christianity. She was the incarnate daughter of the queen of Heaven (Mwari or Mwali we Denga), the rain goddess of the people of the sun (Vakalanga or Bakhalaka) of southern Africa.

Queen Khesetwane regarded Mary and Jesus as white idols who were inferior to the queen of Heaven (Mwari we Denga) and her son, Lundi or Luti, who were responsible for the rain and fertility of the earth.

Although many of the subjects of Valobedu were converted to Christianity, the rain queen continued to hold rain-making ceremonies in October to ask the royal ancestor to intercede with the rain goddess and her son for rain and fertility of the earth.

For Valobedu of Mudjadji, the rain queen and Africans in general, land dispossession is the original sin that is responsible for the drought and all the social ills they are experiencing today.

* Motshekga is the chairperson of Parliament’s portfolio committee on justice and correctional services. He writes in his personal capacity. 

The Sunday Independent