Ga-Mashashane, a reflection of SA’s cultural heritage

April 27 marks 30 years of the country’s first democratic elections while the country’s 2024 general elections are pencilled for May 29. 

The persistent triple challenges of poverty, inequality, and unemployment will be on the minds of my people in rural Ga-Mashashane, Limpopo, thinking of poor service delivery of water, sanitation and electricity. 

They will also think of the dilapidated road infrastructure. 

In no way diminishing the importance of addressing developmental challenges, democracy implies the celebration of cultural heritage – the right enshrined in the country’s constitution, in sections 16, 30 and 31. 

While there are several examples of cultural heritage, for this article I picked language, history, music and performing arts, for interrogation.  

The tribal area of Ga-Mashashane was proclaimed around 1904, situated close to Polokwane and Mokopane towns. The residents under Kxosi Magadangele II predominantly speak Northern Sotho, and Northern Ndebele or isiNdebele sase Nyakatho with a sprinkling of Xitsonga.  

On the origin of the name Mashashane, departed Moses Josiah Madiba, educationist, linguist, and author wrote in the book Mahlontebe III, Lesson 25: “Polokwane evolved from Masešane, which seemingly originated from the Sepedi adage “Sešane sa basadi”. 

Besides pioneering the development of Sesotho Sa Leboa language terminology, Madiba used his books to promote the language, Mashashane’s history, places, landmarks and the people.  

Growing up in the Mohlonong village, kiba, reed pipe music, was a common sight. With Dr Sello Galane among those who added to the Sepedi indigenous artform literature, I can confirm being surrounded by song-dance-drama dinaka and koša ya dikhuru, male and female versions respectively. 

The late Jonas Gwangwa, a SiNdebele sase Nyakatho speaker, musician, composer, and cultural activist paid tribute to his ancestral land on his album, A Temporary Inconvenience (1999). Gwangwa also used music to promote his mother tongue. The song Lituba Lami on the album Kukude (2008) is an example of that effort. 

Music to my ears, as I quote Radio Lebowa (now Thobela FM) presenter and music compiler, Maxwell Mojapelo in the 2008 book Beyond Memory: Recording the History, Moments and Memories of South African Music, said: “Ga-Mashashane is not only the ancestral home to legendary trombonist Jonas Gwangwa, but also to another Northern Ndebele son, percussionist par excellence and cultural activist, Sello Galane.” 

Currently, musicians born in the area, among them Nnana Komape, David Rantjie, Ngwana Ledwaba, Lion Gwangwa, Nkholofeleng DK and Lucky EM, continue to make a mark on the national stage. 

On the choral scene, the Mars village-based (also called Ga-Mangou) Baswa Ba Tshireletso (BBT) Gospel Choir seems to have taken over the baton since Stephen Masenya formed it in 1998. The clap and tap choir’s 70-odd members are drawn from Ga-Mashashane and neighbouring areas such as Mokopane, Moletjie and Seshego with Thabeng ya Sione and Sefofu are some of their songs gracing the country’s television screens and internet. 

It was an “aha” moment remembering The Virile Virtuosos or simply The ViVis, a traditional music mixed choir established by veteran choirmaster Isaiah Ramashala in 1984, his arrival as a teacher at the d.  

In 1990 Ramashala formed a music band Mashashane Cultural Group (Mashacugro). In 1994 he founded Joel Sibasa Cultural Group (Jocugro) and was also the brains behind the 1997 establishment of Ekhaya, a music and drama group. Ekhaya recorded two albums, Ba ile (1998) and Wena fela (1999). 

On performing arts, mainly acting, writing and production elements, Winnie Serite, Rebecca Moshoeu, and Mothipa Kganyago count among those continuing to put the Mashashane area on the map. Serite is a creator, writer and TV producer with writing and production credits including SABC Education’s youth drama Skeem Saam, Around the World in 80 Days, and Giyani – Land of Blood. 

eTV channel viewers can now see Moshoeu play Koko Mashadi in the telenovela Isiphetho – Destiny. The thespian previously showcased her talent on Skeem Saam, uBettina Wethu Season 2 and Muvhango just to mention a few.  

Surely, Mashashane can build a cultural and creative economy thus its local contribution towards the attainment of sustainable development goals, “Masa a sa sele Maune”. 


  • Maubane lives in Ga-Mashashane and is a Unisa development studies postgraduate student

Visit SW YouTube Channel for our video content

Latest News