The queenship of the Balobedu, a Limpopo tribe, has finally been recognised by the government, the first Rain Queen in the country to be so.
Eleven-year-old Masalanabo Modjadji is South Africa’s youngest queen. She will be crowned when she turns 18, according to Mathole Motshekga, lawyer for the Modjadji royal family.
A Government Gazette published last week shows that President Jacob Zuma proclaimed the Modjadji queenship on March 31.
Last year a court placed the queen, who lives and goes to school in Gauteng, in Motshekga’s custody.
The queen’s uncle, Mpapatla Modjadji, is her regent.
The Modjadji queenship dates back to the 1800s, when Maselekwane Modjadji became the first queen.
In the gazette, Zuma said he “hereby recognise[s] the queenship of Balobedu” in terms of the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act.
This restores the Modjadji queenship, which the apartheid government nullified in 1972, demoting Queen Makoma Modjadji IV to chieftain.
Muzamani Nwaila, director-general of the Department of Traditional Affairs, said: “I am really excited because this is the first queenship in South Africa that is so recognised.”
The recognition by the state ends a drawn out campaign by the Balobedu to have their Rain Queen, as the ruler is commonly known, recognised by the democratic government.
The Balobedu tribe has won the battle for recognition of its queenship but two more battles remain.
The Balobedu want their Khilobedu language to be recognised a s an official language, and they want ownership of the tribal land to be restored to them .
Motshekga said the application was made in 1996.