Last Saturday marked a historic occasion for the Balobedu people with the ushering in of their new Rain Queen, Masalanabo Modjadji. At the tender age of thirteen Modjadji remains the Queen elect until such time as she has come of age, but her confirmation as the first officially recognised African Queen in more than forty years is an important moment in African history.
The Balobedu queenship was officially recognised by the state in 2016, some 44 years after it was nullified by the apartheid government in 1972, but with Modjadji’s mother having passed away in 2005, when she was just six months old, there was no one to fill the role of queen, until now. In addressing the crowd gathered to witness the confirmation, President Cyril Ramaphosa said,
Today the Balobedu queenship is on the same recognition level with the Zulu, Venda and Xhosa kingship.
He also made a commitment to have Khelobedu recognised as an official South African language with Regent Mpapatla Modjadji highlighting the importance of the language being taught in schools.
The Balobedu queenship dates back to the 1800s. It is said that Queen Modjadji I was so respected as a rainmaker that even Shaka turned to her for help to relieve Zululand from a prolonged drought.
The new queen’s confirmation on Saturday was aptly blessed with rainfall. Speaking through her guardian, Dr Mathole Motshekga, Modjadji said that there was no better affirmation of the new dawn than witnessing the rainfall.
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