Not many people traveling in southern Africa consider Venda in the northern Limpopo Province a worthy touristic or project partnership visit. For years visitors to the South African Development Community have seen this more isolated, beautiful mountainous area of northern South Africa as a shortcut to Kruger National Park or to/from Pretoria and Johannesburg en route to the wonders of the 1,000-year-old Great Zimbabwe ruin or majestic Victoria Falls.
Perhaps a quick stop was worthy on the Musina-Beitbridge border to photograph the “great, green, greasy Limpopo River” made famous by Rudyard Kipling’s “How The Elephant Got His Trunk.” Not much else would interrupt the dash on the N1, similar to America’s own Route 1 from Canada to Florida.
Big mistake! As I found out when saying ill-advisedly to our travelling companions that “there really is nothing to see or stop for in the area … and we do have an important dinner appointment in Pretoria.” The twofold result was a serious late night ”domestic” with my more adventurous and intuitive wife, Karen, and secondly, a necessary, more open-minded review of the unexplored albeit minimalist pages on the Venda Region section of the Rough Guide and Lonely Planet guidebooks. Alas the travel guides seemed to have the same misperception as my 30-year-old wisdom.
Will native son and national hero Nelson Mandela survive his latest bout with illness? That is the single question dominating headlines, speeches, twitter, and conversation throughout South Africa.
It’s an unusual situation in a country where death is an off-limits topic due to local culture. But as locals brace themselves, anxious, and hopeful, they remain stoic and protective, insisting on Mandela’s privacy as he battles a lung infection. And they say he has a right to be left alone.
“This is a man who gave so much of himself to this country,” said Roseline Wilson, 30, an insurance company representative in Johannesburg. “He must rest. He has suffered too much in his old age.”