Lebowa & Mapungubwe.

As usual, with Mozambique too wet to work in during the rain season, Loxton, Hunting and Associates devoted their resources to agricultural surveys of South African contracts. In early 1972, it had been Lebowa South, which meant parts of this Bapedi Homeland to the south and east of the main trunk road to the northern Transvaal. In January 1973 we tackled Lebowa North, the portions to the north and west.

Lebowa was the South African government’s Bantustan for these, mostly related. Northern Sotho tribes as part of their policy of separate development – Apartheid, which has become a world-renowned swearword. In 1971, its territorial assembly had been replaced by a legislative assembly. Granted self-government the next year, the first elections were held in 1973. The Lebowa People’s Party, under Chief Minister C. N. Phatudi, gained control, with the Lebowa National Party in opposition.

Lebowa 1973

Lebowa 1973

Assigned the northernmost section as my area to survey, I took my new bride, Greet, there and set up camp in a group of government rondawels that had been used by the now defunct Department of Bantu Affairs officials when they visited the region. The Blouberg Mountains were my southern border. Hugo Maaren was once again the party leader. My nearest town was Alldays.

It was hellish hot. We slept naked on top of a sheet which soon was sodden with sweat. Fortunately, there was a nearby bathroom with a shower which we used, cold, every two or three hours and returned to sleep without drying ourselves, so as to remain cool for as long as possible.

As usual, the first few weeks were spent pit-siting and describing the soil types and vegetation communities, followed by the inevitable Co-ordination where the fundis from head-office would correlate all of our separate areas into a cohesive whole for mapping, which followed thereafter. My staff then dwindled to only two to work the auger which I used to confirm the soil type, and thus Greet could come out with me. Occasionally, we would go camping along the Mogalakwena River to map the further reaches of the area.

My six-cylinder Land Rover, now less than two years old, was being given a complete engine overhaul. (It was only finally repaired in June! I had it railed to Warmbaths where it was sold. There is an extraordinary story attached to this that would only unfold in the distant future!)

Lebowa North - Packing

Lebowa North – Packing

I borrowed my father’s farm bakkie for a while, but it was obvious that I would have to buy another 4×4 before we left for Mozambique in April. At last the four cylinder Land Rover, that I had bought second-hand, was ready to fetch from Johannesburg.

While we were in the area, we grabbed the opportunity to try to visit the hill of Mapungubwe in mid-February, which lay not far north on the Limpopo River, at the junction with the Shashe River on the borders of the Republic with Botswana and Rhodesia.



The hill was vertical, a fortress, easily defended against attackers. I saw the holes bored into the cliff crack that used to hold wooden rungs to climb up on. This fascinating place, under the control of the University of Pretoria’s Archaeology Department, was the site of the Kingdom of Mapungubwe (now dated as being 1075-1220) It predated the Kingdom of Zimbabwe and the building of Great Zimbabwe, but there was evidence of gold-trading links to the East African coast.

Having thrown away her pill in January, by the end of March Greet was six weeks pregnant!

About peterjearle

Writer of thriller novels. 4 Published: 'Purgatory Road', 'The Barros Pawns', and the Detective Dice Modise Series:'Hunter's Venom' and 'Medicinal Purposed Only', all from Southern Africa.
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