Mamelodi

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Mamelodi,Statue of Solomon Mahlangu Image source

"Mamelodi" was the name given to President Paul Kruger by the Africans because of his ability to whistle and imitate birds, also meaning Mother of Melodies. Mamelodi has a Population of 334 577, this was in the 2011 Census.
 
Lucky Montana once a Resident of Mamelodi, commented:
"Very unfortunate, short-sighted and ahistorical statements are being made by some among us. It is important that all of us, before making reckless statements, give ourselves time to study the very history of Mamelodi, the origins of the many families that were the first to reside in this historic township in the East of the City of Tshwane, the terrible experience of African people and the pain they endured after their forced removal by Apartheid from areas like Riverside, Eersterust, Marabastad, Meyerspark, Congo, etc and relocated to Mamelodi.
It is true that many of the families in Mamelodi are descendants of people that originates from various parts of Limpopo, predominantly Bapedi but also Vatsonga/Shangaans and Vhavenda. Batswana and Ndebele people had lived in Tshwane for over two centuries even before the Boers settled here, and we also find them in Mamelodi today. There are families in Mamelodi that are descendants of the Coloured people and descendants of people of Indian descent. There has always been Zulu-speaking people in Mamelodi from the time the township was established, as well as families that originates from Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe (from our neighboring countries).
In practice, ordinary people show us the way: they live, work, play, dance, pray together, marry among one another, learn from one another and share many things that are common to them. Their own experiences and common struggle resulted in them overcoming the divisions imposed by apartheid, especially the demon of tribalism which apartheid imposed and wanted tribal identities to define people in Mamelodi and other townships around the country. Apartheid divided Mamelodi along tribal lines and allocated houses, schools, swimming pools and other amenities to reflect the apartheid ideology. However, our people overcame these divisions of apartheid long before 1994.
Mamelodi has evolved over the decades and from the diversity of its people, emerged a unique but common identity, a dynamic and progressive culture reflected in its language, music, dance, food, dress and other ways of life.
I speak of a township that has over the decades produced heroes and heroines from all walks of life . I speak of the Mamelodi of Solomon Mahlangu (Freedom Fighter) Ting-Ting Masango (Freedom Fighter), Stanza Bopape (Freedom Fighter), Obed Mbhalati (Community Leader), Ntate Makgalemele (English and Music Teacher), Vusi Mahlasela, Julian Bahula, Phillip Tabane (Song writers and artists), Jan Lechaba (Footballer), Nakedi Ribane [Actress and Lawyer), Joan Madibeng (Former Miss South Africa and businesswoman), Mamsy Mabunda (Entrepreneur), Lettie Mhuntana (Enterprener), Fish Kekana [businessman), Dr Itsweng, Dr Fabian Ribeiro and Florence Ribeiro, Ntate Ntlatleng (taxi operator and entrepreneur), freedom fighters and community leaders like Moss Chikane, Jan Kotlolo, Pasty Malefo, Sandy Lebese, Mike Seloane, Bheki Nkosi, Mpendulo Khumalo, Peter Maluleka and many other unsung heroes and heroines of our township. These are women and men that came from different backgrounds, they were Ndebele, Zulu, Shangaan, Venda, Pedi, Coloured, Tswana, etc and they contributed in many ways to making Mamelodi what it is today - A Home for All!
I am proud to call this great township my hometown. In my own veins and arteries as the son of Mamelodi, flow the blood of the Pedis (my father), of the Vatsonga/Shangaans (my mother) of the great Scots and Ndebeles (my father’s maternal side). I know that if we were to check each one of us as descendants, as the second and third generations from the original families that first occupied this township, you’ll probably never find a single “pure” Pedi, Tswana, Shangaan, Zulu, Venda, Coloured, Indian because we reflect human movement, interaction and evolution. The movement of people into Mamelodi continues to this very day, from the North, East and West of the City of Tshwane and beyond. We see this happening infront of our very eyes with new and growing human settlements in the Far East of Mamelodi. It has transformed the structure, politics and disturbed power dynamics within the township of Mamelodi in the same manner that the growth in the North of Tshwane is reshaping the social and economic structure of the City of Tshwane.
What makes Mamelodi tick, what makes this township dynamic and vibrant is that it is the “Melting Pot” of different histories, cultures, languages, social practices of the Bapedi, Batswana, Ndebele’s, VhaVenda, Vatsonga/Shangaans, Amazulu, Coloureds peoples, people of Indian descent as well as their experiences and struggles for a common identity and a better future. This is the Mamelodi I know and grew up in the 1970s and 1980s. The spirt of Mamelodi and its dynamism continues today. This is the strength of Mamelodi that I love to bits.
Therefore, false assertions such as “re tlo le busha ka nkane” or “Mopedi Thwii” are simply misplaced, are backward, reflects ignorance and a fundamental lack of knowledge and understanding of the very history of our township and the spirit that drives Mamelodi today.
Difficult economic conditions, competition over limited resources, social disintegration, political uncertainty as well as lack of hope about the future may give rise to these type of narrow ethnic/tribal chauvinism, criminal conduct and other reactionary practices, especially among the young generations that are generally impatient about the lack of slow pace of social and economic change. We should join hands to address and overcome the many challenges/ills we face as a community today. We should continue to forge a common future for ourselves, our children and grand-children.
Pixley Ka Isaka Seme said it - “We are one people”.
Please Stop this tribal nonsense!"

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Last updated : 25-Jan-2019

This article was produced by South African History Online on 25-Jan-2019

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