MAVERICK CITIZEN PHOTO ESSAY

Mifhuluuuuulu! – Celebrating SA’s heritage in pictures

By Lucas Ledwaba 15 September 2020

A Bapedi traditional dancer leaps over a cowhide drum during a performance of the dinaka dance. (Photo: Lucas Ledwaba)

As South Africa celebrates Heritage Month, Lucas Ledwaba joins in the commemoration through these images captured at ceremonies marking the country’s rich cultural heritage.

Mifhululu is the magical call of Africa, a haunting melody that resonates in the great hills and gorges of the continent.

A troupe marches in Makapanstad during the diturupa carnival. (Photo: Lucas Ledwaba)

The Sotho speaking people call it mokgolokwane. In the Nguni languages, they call it ukulilizela. In kiSwahili, it’s called vidonda.

Dance groups participated in the annual Radzambo Cultural Foundation Traditional Dancing Competition 2018 in Ha-Makhuvha in the Vhembe district of Limpopo. (Photo: Lucas Ledwaba / Mukurukuru Media)

It’s a salute to the gods synonymous with the Bantu people, a trademark call to celebrate great milestones, births, weddings, ceremonies of thanksgiving for a good harvest, good rains… and to salute the gods for the gift of life itself.

Mifhuluuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuulu!

Dinaka dancers at a wedding in GaPhaahla in Limpopo. (Photo: Lucas Ledwaba)

The significance of heritage is aptly captured in these quotes below by the Department of Arts and Culture and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

Traditional celebration of diturupa which commemorates the participation of men from South African villages in World Wars 1 and 2 in Makapanstad. (Photo: Lucas Ledwaba)

“Living heritage is the foundation of all communities and an essential source of identity and continuity. Aspects of living heritage include: cultural tradition, oral history, performance, ritual, popular memory, skills and techniques, indigenous knowledge system and the holistic approach to nature, society and social relationships.” – Department of Arts and Culture.

Dipholo tsa go nwa letswai dance group in GaMaila, Limpopo. (Photo: Lucas Ledwaba)

“Heritage constitutes a source of identity and cohesion for communities disrupted by bewildering change and economic instability. Creativity contributes to building open, inclusive and pluralistic societies. Both heritage and creativity lay the foundations for vibrant, innovative and prosperous knowledge societies.” – UNESCO.

A crowd gathers to enjoy the traditional mutshongolo dance in Utah, Mpumalanga. (Photo: Lucas Ledwaba)
Dancers at sunset in Utah village, Mpumalanga. (Photo: Lucas Ledwaba)
The drum forms an integral part of many traditional ceremonies as it’s considered an instrument to communicate with the gods. (Photo: Lucas Ledwaba)
An elder performs the magical mifhululu call during a dance competition in Limpopo. (Photo: Lucas Ledwaba)
A woman dances to the rhythm of pounding cowhide drums during a dance festival. (Photo: Lucas Ledwaba)
A colourful head costume resembling a satellite dish in the annual Radzambo Cultural Foundation Traditional Dancing Competition in Ha-Makhuvha Limpopo.
(Photo: Lucas Ledwaba)
A women’s dance performs the ho-luvha traditional Venda greeting during the Radzambo Cultural Foundation Traditional Dancing Competition 2018 in Ha-Makhuvha in the Vhembe district of Limpopo. (Photo: Lucas Ledwaba)

“Living heritage plays an important role in promoting cultural diversity, social cohesion, reconciliation, peace and economic development. In every community there are living human treasures who possess a high degree of knowledge, skills and history pertaining to different aspects of diverse living heritage. 

“It is therefore important for South Africans to reclaim, restore and preserve these various aspects of living heritage to accelerate the use of living heritage to address challenges communities are facing today.” – Department of Arts and Culture. DM/MC

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