At risk: Writing on and over the edge of South Africa. Who Killed the Rain
Who Killed the Rain, written by Liz McGregor, is an extract from the book At risk: Writing on and over the edge of South Africa.
Makobo, Queen Modjadji VI, first sparked my imagination when I read about her inauguration as rain queen in April 2003. She was young - only 25 - female, and ascribed the most beguiling of powers in a world beset by fears of global warming and environmental disaster. Modjadji, it was claimed, could control the rain. There were salacious titbits: she was given a harem of wives. She could have as many lovers as she wanted but she could only procreate with a brother or cousin. The eldest daughter born of such a union would inherit the crown. In a patriarchal country like South Africa -and nowhere more so than the tradition-dominated rural areas - such female freedoms stood out. I was not the only one drawn to the rain queen: Nelson Mandela himself flew up to Limpopo for the inauguration. He took the young royal under his wing, promising to send her to England for further education, and contributed a school, a tarred road up to the Royal Kraal and two luxury cars to ferry her about in the style to which she should become accustomed. And then, just over two years later, on 12 June 2005, there was another flurry of publicity. Queen Modjadji was dead. A spontaneous fire had broken out in the kraal housing her coffin. Her brother had fled the country. Her baby daughter, now heir to the throne, had been kidnapped by the queen's lover, David Mohale, who claimed Makobo had been poisoned. His own and his baby daughter's lives were also in danger, he said. I became increasingly intrigued. What had happened to this young, hopeful life? Who killed the rain queen? I looked for books about her and found surprisingly little. She was first mythologised in literature by Rider Haggard in his novel She, written in 1887. The queen, mysteriously white, is so alluring that no man - not even the British adventurer hero, a self-confessed misogynist - can resist her. Then, 50 years later, husband and wife anthropological team, EJ and JD Krige, produced a dense, seminal work on the rain queen and her ethnic group, the Balobedu. With a foreword by Krige's uncle, then Prime Minister, Jan Smuts, it describes an idyllic, prelapsarian community living in great harmony and relative prosperity, under an intricate and unique matrilineal social system. Presiding over this was the sacred queen, Modjadji, transformer of the clouds, whose power over rain afforded her the adoration of her people and the respect of neighbours. In the intervening 60-odd years, there had been little of substance written about her, which was puzzling, given how much interest she evoked. It was only when I personally tried to penetrate the realm of the rain queen that I understood why this might be the case. (...)
At risk: Writing on and over the edge of South Africa. Who Killed the Rain, by Liz McGregor.
Book title: At risk: Writing on and over the edge of South Africa
Editors: Liz McGregor; Sarah Nuttall
Publisher: Jonathan Ball
Cape Town, South Africa 2007
Softcover, 13x20 cm, 246 pages
McGregor, Liz und Nuttall, Sarah im Namibiana-Buchangebot
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