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Exploring the cultures and environmental heritage of South African Kingdoms: Komjekejeke Heritage Site

by Stella Sigcau

3 February 2020

KoMjekejeke, it is reported came from the word Jekezela, which means in isiNdebele language “to live in comfort and abundance”. The Komjekejeke heritage site situated in Walmansthal, outside Pretoria is home to the annual King Silamba commemoration and carries a rich history which goes back to the 1800s.

It is reported that this land was occupied in 1873 by the Ndebele people whose King was Silamba. Apparently in 1860 a bitter clash over land occurred leading to King Silamba and his people moving after great resistance with the Dutch farmer JG Bronkhorstand his allies to KoMjekejeke.

Prior to moving to Komjekejeke King Silamba resided in KwaNaNduna/ Klipkoppies that is situated between Bronkhorstspruit, Bapsfontein and Pretoria. King Silamba had become a problem since he strongly resisted the infiltration of the Ndebele nation by the colonial missionaries in protection of the culture and the preservation of the Ndebele people’s cultural identity.

Komjekejeke was found to be more peaceful, fertile with abundance of water and rain and having more stability, hence the area was named KoMjekejeke. People here lived in comfort; peace and in stability, history tells. In 1915 as a result of the 1913 Land Act and Group Areas Act amaNdebele were once again moved. In 1986 King Makhosonke Mabhena a descendant of King Silamba initiated a process of reclaiming this land under Silamba Trust in an effort to preserve their heritage by purchasing the land.

In 1998 the Department of Arts and Culture declared four hectares of land at Komjekejeke a national heritage site. This site represents an important chapter in the history of the Ndebele people, their culture and heritage and a reminder of how Kings played an instrumental role in resisting colonialism and cultural imperialism. It is reported that the area of KoMjekejeke has the graves of Silamba and four other Ndebele kings who ruled after him. KoMjekejeke has developed since it was declared a National heritage site with the newly completed interpretation centre, open air amphitheatre, museum to mention a few.

King Silamba commemoration takes place at Komjekejeke heritage site on the first Saturday of March every year and this year it will be held on the 7 March. This year marks 40 years anniversary since inception. It is expected that thousands of people from various walks of life will attend this event including tourists who contribute to rural economy and in boosting cultural tourism. Government representatives and Kings and Chiefs from South Africa and various parts of the continent are expected to attend.




February/March 2020








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