Due to his deep appreciation for his family’s history and customs, Develd Monyai has achieved notable success. His steadfast commitment to his African heritage is evident as he eloquently recounts the captivating stories of his ancestors’ exploits in Africa with confidence and respect, likening them to invaluable treasures. He serves as an inspiration for others to fearlessly express their creativity and embrace the essence of their cultural heritage and traditions through diverse artistic forms, motivating and empowering those around him.

By Noko Mashilo

Develd Monyai has struck gold by discovering the true worth of his heritage. He is wearing his African heritage on his sleeve, telling stories with his head held high, and treating them like precious gems.

He says he wants people to let their creativity run wild and not be afraid to capture the essence of their culture and tradition on paper or reel.

“Back in the day, our wise forefathers relied on good old-fashioned blood, sweat, and tears to preserve knowledge. They used rocks, mud, timber, and all sorts of Mother Nature’s gifts to keep the wisdom flowing through the ages.

“We are sitting pretty with the modern bells and whistles like computers, artificial intelligence, data analytics, mobile devices, cameras, and more, all set to turn the tables on how we document information to keep our traditions alive.

“I want people to let loose and speak their mind, even if it means speaking in their native language like there is no tomorrow. If push comes to shove, they better pull out all the stops and find themselves an interpreter to make sure the message gets across loud and clear.”

Develd is making all of this happen through his company Kamoraleng. Kamoraleng, which translates to “in the kitchen” in sePedi, holds a special meaning for Develd – it represents a treasure trove of wisdom. According to him, this is the place where knowledge is safeguarded.

“Remember in the olden days when the kitchen was the place to gather around the wood fire and our grandparents would tell us stories after a great meal? It was more of a family bond since we will all come together and listen to stories about life and survival,” said Develd.

In a symphony of words, he unveiled the grand vision of his organisation, a tapestry woven with purpose and passion. Their noble objective, like a painter’s brushstrokes on a canvas, is to breathe life into the social and cultural tapestry that surrounds us. With meticulous care, they seek to expand the boundaries of possibility, transforming communities into vibrant landscapes, sites into hallowed sanctuaries, monuments into timeless tributes, and objects into cherished artefacts.

“In the pursuit of safeguarding our rich heritage and ancestral wisdom, we shall embark upon a poetic odyssey, weaving the tapestry of indigenous souls into the ethereal realms of verse, narrative, and visual chronicles. These sacred chronicles, akin to whispers carried by the winds of time, shall find their eternal abode within the hallowed halls of libraries, museums, and sacred sites. Thus spoke the man, a proud custodian of African essence, his heart aflame with reverence for the treasures of his land.”

Develd says his organisation conducts several annual programs: “Among our popular programs is the heritage tour, during which we guide participants to various heritage sites such as Shango la hashu, which translates to ‘our country’ in Tshivenda. This particular site, situated in Midrand, features seven rondavels representing different ethnic groups in South Africa. Each rondavel showcases the traditional lifestyle of our people in historical times. This tour is held annually on Heritage Day.”

Another event is the Cultural Festival honouring King Silamba of the amaNdebele nation. During this event, various Kings and Queens are invited to demonstrate the significance of their culture and traditions. Typically, the festival is overseen by King Makhosoke II and is held at the revered Komjekejeke heritage site in Wahlmansthal, located in the northeast of Pretoria. King Silamba was a prominent leader of the Ndebele nation during their relocation to KoMjekejeke by the Boers in the late 1860s, as recounted by Develd.

Develd expressed his satisfaction with the annual commemoration of King Nyabela, which takes place on December 19th in Roossenekal, Sekhukhune, Limpopo.

“This is where the King was killed, and he was a well-known warrior who helped King Mampuru to fight his enemies. He was a fearless King.”

Develd was born in Mampote village, Sekiding, in Senwabarwana, Limpopo, and pursued journalism studies after completing high school. He spent more than ten years as a photojournalist for the Midrand Reporter. Currently, he is in high demand as a public relations professional, strategic advisor, expert consultant, researcher, communicator, and content creator/producer.

His highlight at Kamoraleng was when his organisation was nominated for the best documentary award for promoting African culture at the SAFTAS awards during Covid 19. He says the awards ceremony did not take place because large gatherings were prohibited under government rules and regulations aimed at containing the spread of Covid 19.

“Covid-19 caught us by surprise. It was a shock, but Kamoraleng got help from the knowledge of different Kings like Chief Macingwane II of amaNdebele tribal authority. He helped us with innovations like looking at Covid 19 from the traditional point of view.

“Apart from the modern vaccination like Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson, he introduced us to the traditional herbal medicines. And reminded us quarantine and immunisation were practised in the olden days. He also spoke to the right authorities to communicate the right information to the community so that we cannot fall into the trap of myths.”

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