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Queen Modjadji


The myth, the place, the Queen – Queen Modjadji

15 April 2024
A 400-year empire began with a princess, banished from her people amid scandal; she rose to be the powerful Rain Queen.
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Heavy clouds, an ethereal fog, and a soft drizzle greeted me as I opened the curtain. 🌧 “Uh oh,” I thought, “the spirit of the Rain Queen is showing us her special skill.”

The Rain Queen, or Modjadji as she is more commonly known, is the hereditary ruling monarch for the Balobedu people in Limpopo, a northern province in South Africa. The Royal Compound is still based in a town called Modjadjiskloof (formerly Duiwelskloof) in Tzaneen. 🇿🇦

It is surrounded by beauty of flourishing greenery that further added an air of authenticity to her rain making powers because it is a place where rain is a familiar guest. ☔

History and lore

Her people believe that she has sacred powers to make rain … a conviction that has kept them safe for many years. Many warring tribal parties left her people alone fearing her rain making powers. Even the renowned Zulu warrior Shaka is believed to have paid homage to her.

A story of sorrow, scandal, and courage surround the origins of the Rain Queen dynasty. Each fable, though, has a fallen princess as the main protagonist – her name: Dzugundini

In one myth, the Karanga chief from the Kingdom of Monomotapa was told by his ancestors during the 16th century that if he impregnates his daughter, Dzugundini, she will gain the ability to make rain. Once the princess had these powers, the Kingdom’s riches would increase. She was then called Modjadji, or ‘ruler of the day’.

Another legend claims that the same king banished his daughter Dzugundini after she was impregnated by her brother. But because of his love for her, he bestowed a magic horn that had the ability to make rain to help defend herself against enemies. Mother and child together fled and established a new kingdom with the help of the magical rain making horn. So began the empire of the Rain Queen.

The throne has always been passed from mother to eldest daughter. In that way the female headed empire lives on.

Present day

The Modjadji Nature Reserve is named after the Rain Queen and is home to a cycad forest that has some of the biggest and largest of the specimens in the world. “The Modjadji Cycad Reserve holds the largest concentration of a single cycad species in the world,” reads the South African Tourism website. “These majestic plants are some of the oldest and largest of their kind on the planet.”

The Modjadji cycad is named after the Rain Queen, and it reaches a whopping 13 metres.

By the afternoon, the fog had lifted, the clouds cleared, and the drizzle had dissipated, and the sun had come out to dance. The Rain Queen’s spirit had left her mark on us knowing that the next storm would be a welcome – after all it is only the Rain Queen cleansing and refreshing the earth.

Join the conversation on Mzansi Magic’s social media platforms: Facebook, TwitterInstagram, and TikTok. Use the hashtag #QueenModjadjiMzansi.

Featured image: Else Siegel from Pixabay