Sponsored Content

  SPONSORED CONTENT

  SPONSORED CONTENT

This podcast series is made possible by JoJo - for water, for life

This podcast series is made possible by JoJo - for water, for life

The Voice of the Natural World

Her name is not just a name, but an urgent imperative to build or establish something, and what Makhadzi Vho-Mphatheleni Makaulele has spent a lifetime building is truly great. She is the founder and director of Dzomo la Mupo, an environmental protection and cultural advocacy organisation that been central to preserving the sacred forests, lakes and waterfalls of Limpopo’s Vhembe district which are fundamental for the natural flow of water throughout the area, the livelihoods of its residents and the survival of the Venda people’s cultural and spiritual way of life. Women are at the centre of the organisation which Makhadzi Vho-Mphatheleni has built. It relies on the institution of makhadzi – a father’s senior sister in the Venda social structure– who are among the designated knowledge keepers and power-brokers of Venda society.

 

Using cultural biodiversity techniques, as they are called today, the makhadzi of Dzomo la Mupo continue the age-old practice of facilitating intergenerational learning between young people and their elders to transfer the knowledge of their environmental and spiritual interconnectedness with the natural world. Central to their teaching is the preservation and reforestation of their sacred indigenous forests which are crucial for the continued supply of life-giving water to the great rivers and lakes which they have been the long-standing wardens of.

 

But Makhadzi Vho-Mphatheleni’s work has not been smooth-sailing. Colonial dispossession, the imminent threat of mining activity, and the desecration of their zwifho – the sacred natural temples in the forests and mountains – by tourism ventures has brought disruption to their communities and forced them to extend their work into the courts, sometimes even against traditional authorities who have abandoned their sacred duty to their people. Even so, she works tirelessly in fulfilling the mission of her name because her commitment to the work is tied to her commitment to the survival of her people.

 

Through their teaching, reforestation and environmental defence work, Makhadzi Vho-Mphatheleni and the makhadzi of Venda hope to do good by the role they have been assigned by their ancestors: to be the loud and indomitable voice of the natural world.

 

For Water For Life – The water podcast tells the extraordinary stories of ordinary people who have made it their life’s mission to preserve, purify and protect South Africa’s water resources. This podcast series is made possible by JoJo – for water, for life.