The death of the youngest and most short-lived of the rain queens, Makobo Modjadji, this week has thrown the Balobedu nation into mourning.
Mathole Motshekga, former Gauteng premier and legal adviser to the royal family, says the question of Queen Makobo’s daughter succeeding her has not yet arisen. A new queen will be chosen after a spiritual ceremony has been completed.
Chairperson of the royal council and brother to the queen, Mpapatla Modjadji, will be recognised as the highest authority until a new queen is chosen.
Makobo became the Balobedu’s youngest rain queen at 25, when she succeeded Mokope Modjadji V in 2003. She was also the most short lived, ruling for only two years. “The contribution of a ruler is not determined by his or her lifespan and term of office, but rather by the contribution made,” said Motshekga.
Makobo was also the first queen to have attended school.
In 2003 she was offered a bursary by the Mandela Children’s Fund to study at a British university where she intended to read development administration.
Although Queen Modjadji inherited a spiritual office she played an active role in the community.
“She partnered with government, the private sector and NGOs for the implementation of community development projects,” said Motshekga.
Belief and culture constitute an important part of the lives of the Balobedu people and it is believed that the rain queen is the incarnation of the goddess Mwari.
The Modjadji kingdom is the only kingdom in Africa that is ruled by a woman.
The rain queen is said to have supernatural abilities to make rain.
The queen was never married as it is prohibited by tradition for the rainmaker to have a husband. She presided over a royal council of men, who are responsible for choosing her partner for procreation.
African heritage related to traditional governance, religion and indigenous systems were preserved under Queen Makobo’s reign.
A cloud of uncertainty hangs over the queen’s burial, as the final date for the funeral has not been determined.
She leaves behind a seven-year-old daughter and a five-month-old son. — Motlatsi Lebea and Cheri-Ann James
Makobo Modjadji, born 1978, died 2005