More or less 550 kilometres north east of Johannesburg you will find the little happening town of Giyani, a popular town in the heart of Bushveld country in the western crook of the Kruger National Park, even if it is a further 200 kilometres or so to reach the Phalaborwa Gate. It is hot here, reaching 36 degrees in summer and managing to remain at around 22 degrees during winter - sublime if you want to escape cold, wet winters elsewhere in the country.
Giyani is made up of around 200 villages, and predominated by a group of people who speak mainly Xitsonga, give or take the handful of white, mainly Afrikaans speaking people who tend to live around Kremetart, next to Mangope. This is farming country and fields of mielies peanuts, tomatoes, bananas and cattle farming predominate, whilst the staple diet, unsurprisingly, is maize meal.
It is said that the country's first practicing Black pharmacist set up shop here during the years of apartheid. Because of where Giyani finds itself geographically, it is a fairly popular town to visit en route to the Kruger National Park. Even the local golf course stocks resident game such as zebra, giraffe, some antelope and a prolific bird life.
Just outside town you will find the Manomba Nature Reserve and the Nsami Dam, both peaceful and pretty locations at which to chill, whilst enjoying the occasional baobab tree interspersed by the requisite Mopane in the Lowveld countryside.
In a 2017 article from The Sunday Independent, Sam Mathe wrote about actors who have unwittingly taken on the role of activism, leading with Baloyi’s Ga-Mchangani as a reference. “Xitsonga and other minority languages continue to be treated as local television’s stepchildren despite their official status in the Constitution.”
SABC 2 premiered South Africa’s first Xitsonga drama series Giyani — Land of Blood in honour of the 3.5-million Vatsonga people in South Africa. A few weeks before, its premiere President Cyril Ramaphosa mentioned it in his Human Rights Day speech when he said South Africans are tasked with conserving languages that are in danger of becoming extinct.


Further Reading