Family members with Vhomakhadzi Makaulule (in academic gown) during a recent function to celebrate her master's degree. Photo: Elmon Tshikhudo.
Well-known environmentalist and founder of Dzomo la Mupo, Makhadzi Vho Mphatheleni Makaulule, obtained her master’s degree in African studies during the University of Venda’s spring graduation ceremony on Thursday, 5 October.
The topic of her research was “An Exploration of Indigenous uses of luranga by the Vhavenda from the Limpopo Province”. Her thesis was dedicated to her late son, Thama Matamela Mutangano Dima, whom she said had motivated her throughout her research. She was supervised by Prof Pfarelo Matshidze and Prof Vhonani Netshandama.
Makaulule won an award for global leadership at the International Indigenous Women’s Forum (FIMI) in New York in 2013. She is the founder of Dzomo la Mupo, and is also an indigenous-knowledge practitioner, environmental protection warrior, defender of the sacred sites, indigenous cultural advocate, and has been central in preserving indigenous forests, lakes, and waterfalls in the Vhembe District.
About her most recent academic achievement she said that she had been inspired when she had noticed how the Vhavenda people were giving up the holistic uses of luranga, which is a traditional Venda vegetable. “In my study, I elaborated on the value of nutrition that is found in phuri and muphapha (both vegetables). They also have an ecological significance, spiritual connections, and psychological identification on womanhood pride. Zwitemba (luranga fruits) can be stored in plastic containers, limiting the need for refrigeration,” she explained.
Addressing the guests who attended the function at her home in Vuwani to celebrate in her academic achievement, Makaulule called on all communities to walk in the footsteps of their ancestors. “Things are not going right for us because we have forsaken our roots. I challenge you all to read up more on luranga to have a better knowledge of it, so we can enhance our spiritual heritage ceremonies again, which bring harmony to the clans, communities, and to the nation. I also urge the youth to take your education seriously as it is the only key to a brighter future. Through education and documenting your clans and community knowledge from elders, you as young people will be raising a voice to save our land,” she said.
Date:22 October 2023
Elmon Tshikhudo started off as a photographer. He developed an interest in writing and started submitting articles to local as well as national publications. He became part of the Limpopo Mirror family in 2005 and was a permanent part of the news team until 2019.