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Mapulana, Mapulaneng and the history of my people.
At the dawn of the African Renaissance, I am going to share with you the history, language, culture, traditions of my people and finally will give you a glimpse of modern day Mapulaneng.  Mapulana are a people who are mostly forgotten and even unknown to other South Africans. Others call them Bapedi whereas others confuse them with VhaTsongas or AmaSwazi. Quite a few are prominent South Africans. Their language is not written. It is not unheard of to find people from Butha Buthe, Nquthu or Cofimvaba speak about their people without offering explanations of who they are and where their hometowns are, yet many of my people and I have to explain who we are and where we come from. I find that peculiar and need to change the status quo.

During the late 1970’s and early 1980’s when I was growing up in Shatale, Mapulaneng, my grandmother used to relate stories of the battle of Moholoholo. The battle happened before her time but she was practicing the ancient oral traditions of her people to pass stories to the young. I struggled to believe the stories she was telling, they were more legends than anything. I could not relate to them, history lessons at school taught us about Shaka, Gcaika, Mzilikazi, Moshweshwe, Sekhukhune. Why not Sekakule? I just could not believe that my own ancestor was also a famous warrior. It dawned on me when I progressed with my education that virtually nothing was written about my people, let alone my own famous ancestor. Any reference to Mapulaneng or to Mapulana in written texts was very cursory.  I admit there were attempts by some ethnologist, historians and early North Sotho novelist to record my people’s history but the information was blatantly leaving out other clans or did not recognize important events and personalities. In other cases it was simply wrong.

It is an obvious observation that many African tribes have, in the quest to be modern, abandoned their ways of life. Yet other tribes, especially in Asia, have managed to embrace modernity without sacrificing their ancient ways of life  The following is an attempt to start codifying aspects of the lives of MaPulana, one of the indigenous tribes of South African. This work is incomplete and will for sometime remain a work in progress as I gather information to add. To give you some insights into MaPulana, I will introduce you to my family and their history. I hope this text will stir some pride in MaPulana to start writing about their language and their stories. I am sure that there are a lot of stories to be told about Mapulaneng. I concede that the text is not complete and in many ways unstructured. In this texts I am going to use Mapulana in contrast to Mapulane to refer to the tribe and SePulane instead of SePulana to refer to their language.

To make meaningful contributions to the Renaissance we have to acknowledge our identities, research, gather and disseminate our traditional knowledge.

I would like to thank those grand old men and women who had the time to answer my questions, those teachers and lecturers of Northern Sotho from the various universities and schools, who encouraged me to write and offered their resources. Thanks to my parents who recognized the missionary zeal to complete this work and offered encouragement and knowledge. To baga Matšia who shared their history I say ditau tsa mariri!

A totem of my people
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Name: Joe Matshiya
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