Image via Adobe Stock

Traditional leader honours his local heroes and heroines

A Limpopo rural leader proves to the nation that you don’t need to be a politician to be recognised and honoured.


Image via Adobe Stock

Bonn village in the Greater Tzaneen local municipality, Limpopo, is graced with street names for the first time since it was established around 1835. This comes after a local traditional leader, Headman Sakie Macana Machimana decided to honour the local village heroes and heroines who contributed positively to the development of the village.

The honours were bestowed to both the living legends and those who have passed.

Heroes honoured through street names

This is the only rural village across Greater Tzaneen to have proper street names.

Headman Machimana and his village council decided to honour the legends by naming the dusty streets in the village after them. They have written the initials and surnames of those who deserve the honours on the poles of each street entrance at Bonn village.

Headman Machimana believes people don’t have to hold high office in government or political parties in order for them to get recognition.

This is what the headman had to say: “We need to abandon the practice and norms of only naming our structures and places after political leaders. We cannot all go to exile or Robben Island in order to qualify for recognition.

“The fight for freedom in this country was not waged with ammunitions alone. We have a lot of people who waged the fight from another perspective like in education. It is wrong to think that the only people who fought for freedom in this country are those who were in exile or come from Robben Island. We have many who contributed to the emancipation of out country while they stayed here at home.”

He said we need to also acknowledge that women kept the fires burning here at home while fathers were migrant labourers in Johannesburg.

Honouring those who stayed behind

A lot of other people contributed to emancipation of our nation through educating and building their communities. Some did it through providing health care while others did it through farming and feeding the communities.

He said in our rural villages we have people who contributed or continue to contribute to the development of our rural areas.

“We don’t have money or any other fancy awards. All we can do is to honour them by naming our streets after them,” said the headman.

He further said that he knows that the rural streets are too dusty, but all that matters is the idea. The naming comes from their hearts.

Headman Machimana believes that one day they will be able to name bigger structures after deserving villagers.

“You don’t need to be part of the political structure to be recognised. All we need are those who worked hard to develop our village,” he said.

Bonn village has honoured its heroes for a while. Years ago they named their first junior secondary school after the first principal in the village — the late Principal Jacob Magamana.

Local ANC Ward 25 Councillor Josta Banyini, who is also from the village, said the headman and his council deserves recognition.

“It’s rare to have traditional leaders with such vision,” he said.

The Greater Tzaneen Municipality spokesman Neville Ndlala said it’s not the municipality’s initiative but they are happy for the beautiful job by the traditional leadership, while others played a role in other developmental initiatives.

Residents appreciated the job by Headman Machimana and echoed that it cannot be that only people who went to exile and ex-combatants be the ones to be honoured. All these villagers who played different roles here at home need to be recognised.

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