Sunday 21 October 2012
Arriving in Rustenburg
I arrived at OR Tambo airport from London on Sunday 21 October 2012. My folks collected me from the airport. They were on their way back from a road trip to the Eastern Cape.
I was full of questions on the drive home about stuff related to the Western Limb. I asked about about maps, about local arts, about entertainment venues, about film and video in the area. Having been closely involved in the area as the General Manager of several platinum mines in the area, he knows the area extremely well.
Angelina and the Moffat Mission Station
We arrived at my parent’s home. In a promising omen for the music recording side of Western Limb, Angelina, who is a cleaner for my parents, had on a programme of great gospel music on Soweto TV to soundtrack her work. We had a sandwich and then took Angelina, my folks’ cleaner, back to her house in Phokeng.
On the 20km drive from Cashan, where my parents live, to Phokeng, I asked Angelina about gospel and choral music and her involvement and the church. Angelina loves signing and sings in several church choirs. She grew up in Kuruman. Kuruman is the site of a historical mission station established in 1816 by Robert and Mary Moffat of the London Missionary Society. Robert Moffat and a team of Tswana translators translated the bible and Tswana and printed it in the Mission’s printing machinery. It was the first entire bible printed in Africa. The printing machines are still used today. Angelina’s grandmother worked at the mission station. Angelina now lives in Rustenburg and is part of the Rustenburg chapter of the mission church, and returns regularly to Kuruman. In a few weeks, she is sitting a bible studies exam.
Glenda Williams – Moffat Mission Station, Kuruman
Nkulumane’s grave in Phokeng
Before returning home, we stopped in at Nkulamane’s grave, son of the great chief Mzilikazi (translation: The Great Road). Mziikazi was a Zulu chief who split away from King Shaka with hos followers and went inland. I had always associated Mzilikazi with the Matabele people based around Bulawayo and the Matopo Hills where Cecil John Rhodes is buried, as this is where he and his followers eventually settled. I did not realise that Mzilikazi and his followers were so active in the Rustenburg area as well.
In fact, Mzilikazi spent several years in the area around Rustenburg, where he established three military strongholds. One on the Apies River north of Pretoria, one north of the present day Hartebeespoort Dam, and one in Phokeng itself.
Mzilikazi only moved north of the Limpopo River into present day Zimbabwe after several battles with the Voortrekker families who were moving into their area with their trains of oxwagons, rifles and deadly marksmanship. In Zimbabwe, he rejoined a group Matabele from whom his followerd had separated several years earlier. This group had installed Nkulumane as Chief. It seems that Nkulumane came with his followers to the Rustenburg area and found a home among the Bafokeng, as a result of a succession disupute, though different sources give different reasons why he left for the South.
Nkulumane’s grave site is in a yard a few blocks away from the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace that hosted several matches in the 2012 FIFA World Cup.
Robert Moffat and Mzilikazi admired one another and were good friends. Moffat visited Mzilikazi’s royal complex every few years.
‘Ain’t we walking down the same street together on the very same day’
What was surprising was the connections between two seemingly unrelated events – taking Angelina home and going to find an old grave site with no real information about the person who lay there. This is one of the wonderful things about collaborations.
There is an interesting interview at the end of the 25th anniversary reissue of Graceland album. Paul Simon talks about how he and the South African musicians Ray Phiri, Bakithi Kumalo and Vusi Khumalo came up with the music for the song Graceland, imitating each other, and reaching into their memories for connections to make a surprising, beautiful and enduring song that connects two things that don’t seem to be all that related, namely Graceland and Sun Records and South African rock and pop.
I went to with my Dad to take Angelina home to Phokeng because I was on the lookout for footage for the Western Limb site. And I would not have known about Angelina’s Kuruman connection if I hadn’t been asking after music and choirs from the area. And after a long flight I would almost certainly have taken a pass on going hunting for an old grave site. It was only in putting together this blog post that I made the connection between the conversation with Angelina about her life and the Moffat Mission Station and Nkulumane’s grave site.
Four days later, I drove out to my uncle Robert’s and Aunt Glenda’s farm Mount Serene (which has a converted train carriage as accommodation in the Magalisberg, the range of mountains that rings the Western Limb to interview my uncle. We had a look at some of my aunt’s watercolours, and there is a lovely painting of my uncle and my mom standing outside….the Moffat Mission station in Kuruman.