The Venda people
The Venda people were one of the last black tribes to migrate south of the Limpopo River. When they moved in to South Africa they found a beautiful, bountiful area, which they promptly named Venda (pleasant place) and settled there.
Lanky, yet graceful, the Venda people are warm and friendly. Their history began in the valleys and mountains of Limpopo Province, where their forebears established a great civilisation centred round Mapungubwe.
Though ruled by kings, the position of women in Venda culture is unusual in Africa in that they are encouraged to occupy senior positions in society. It is common for a woman to inherit her father's estate where there is no apparent male heir.
Children and the elderly have their own role to play. This is linked to the recognition and worship of the ancestors. Having just joined the earthly plane, the children are still close to the ancestors. The elderly are also close to the ancestors because they will soon join the spiritual realm in death.
In Venda tradition there are many sacred sites, especially Lake Fundudzi high in the Soutspansberg Mountains. Even today, it is believed this is where the White Python – the god of fertility – lives.
In reverence to the python, young female initiates perform the Domba dance. This is where the girls form a chain of bodies. When they move to the rhythm of beating drums, it replicates the movement of the snake, as well as a baby in the womb.
What sets the Venda culture truly apart from other tribes in South Africa is the role of art in the community. Artists are called by the spirit world through unusual dreams and visions to fulfil their destinies, giving their work a supernatural energy. This places them on the same social plane as a traditional healer.