THABO MAKGOBA: The land issue belongs with communities, not politicians
'While our history gives us no choice but to redistribute land, I am not happy with the way politicians are playing on people's hunger for redress'
Expropriation does not automatically improve the lives of our people. We, the Makgobas, secured the return of some of our land under current legislation. But it has become a curse. Dissension among us resulted in some of the country's most productive tea estates lying derelict for years. When I see the continuing poverty, I think the ghosts of Piet Joubert and Paul Kruger must be thumping their chests, celebrating that we still haven't figured out how to deal with what they did to us.
I have not heard anyone spell out an overarching vision which takes all the complex practical and emotional factors into account. Nor have I heard a satisfactory answer to the fundamental question: expropriation to do what?
The Makgobas and our clan, baTlou of Makgoba's Kloof, Limpopo, know all about the pain of having our land expropriated without compensation. When our great-grandfather, Kgosi Mamphoku Makgoba, resisted the decision of Paul Kruger's government to parcel out our land to white settlers in the 1890s, they sent a force of at least 4,000 to crush our army of 250. They finally caught up with Kgosi Makgoba in the kloof on a Sunday. Because Gen Piet Joubert, hero of the Boers' First War of Liberation against the British, and his men were at church, the Swazi auxiliaries who found Makgoba cut off his head and sent it to Joubert to prove they had killed him. Announcing the news to Kruger, Joubert ended his telegram: "The Lord reigns, and I am his servant." We are still searching for our ancestor's skull. More than 120 years later, when I drive through white-owned land down the beautiful Makgoba's Kloof Pass, I pass citrus farms, avocado pear trees and commercial pine plantations. It smells of ...