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Klein Bolayi Photography

Klein Bolayi

by Mike Rossi


The Venda call this granite dome Tshamavhudzi, “The one with no hair”. The owners of the farm, where the dome is situated, and the other tribal groups in the area call it, Klein Bolayi – this seems strange! – It’s neither of Bantu origins or Afrikaans. But rumour has it, that it was used as a place for executing murderers. The method not too dissimilar to the French guillotine. This makes it, the Mapungubwe Place De La Revolution.


Tshamavhudzi is a rare granite dome in a landscape littered with sandstone outcrops. The dome reminded me of a discarded WW1 British helmet, split open by a glancing bullet. Its length, at a guess is around 200 meters, 50 meters high and 100 meters wide.


I was immediately drawn to its striking simplicity. On the side of the dome, a Rock fig tree, I’m told, probably 2000 years old stood to attention — they’re known to live to double that age. Well, rooted into the bald granite, I asked myself the question — how did the Fig tree survive before reaching water? The Limpopo is not exactly Newlands, and there’s at least 50 meters of rock to get through. Also the width of the fracture suggests that the ever-expanding roots widened it.


A fig tree gene continuation depends on fig wasps, as they cannot survive without each other. Called “obligate mutualism”, Iziko South Africa Museum states that only fig wasps can pollinate fig trees and only fig trees can host the wasps’ eggs. This mutualism has evolved over 80 million years and encompasses the 750 species of fig trees; although identification of fig wasps only extends to 300 species. In addition, the mutualism narrows to each fig tree species having only one fig wasp that can pollinate it. What is amazing is that the lifespan of a fig wasp is only a few days, making the actual pollination of a fig tree quite a feat. And in the dry arid climate of the Limpopo, that’s an achievement.


Situated between Musina and Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape; I’d made several trips to pass “The one with no hair”, all in conditions similar to hell with no shades of Nimbus. Other than transfixed chameleons and darting Black Mambas — nothing extraordinary happened – January is their breeding season. I was told in no uncertain words, “You’re dead if you venture up any koppie.”


I had stood, generally at a distance in open territory (although Black Mamba’s can’t out-run a human in the long sprint, I did not want to test it). I waited for many hours in the hope of the right cloud build-up, I had already experienced marauding Zimbabwean hijackers with machete’s; so I took to flash drives past Klein Bolayi.


When the moment came it was quite by accident. Returning from a Musina shopping trip I saw the aureola were collecting. Running ahead, I got to Klein Bolayi ten minutes before the clouds arrived. They held out long enough for me to snap twelve frames. Then, they were gone — burnt away by the sun.


Part of the "Shadows Over Stones" Photographic Art Collection. Available as “Custom Finish & Bespoke” Fine Art and Photo Prints, framed or unframed. Photography created as beautiful pieces of Wall Art for you to invest and enjoy, from OPENPHOTO-STUDIO.

  • Specification Unframed Print

    Unframed - Black & White Print - ref: 00039-1

    Print Paper Type: Fine Art - Cotton 215gsm

    Image Size: 60cm x 22.5cm

    Print Boarder: 4cm White

    Overall Size: 68cm x 30.5cm

    Backing: 2mm White Card

  • Specification Framed Print

    Framed - Black & White Print - ref: 00039-2

    Print Paper Type: Fine Art - Cotton 215gsm

    Print Size: 60cm x 22.5cm

    Print Boarder: None

    Card Mount: Single White 5cm

    Frame Profile: 33mm x 30mm - S2 Charcoal

    Overall Size: 75cm x 37.5cm

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  • "Shadows Over Stone" Collection

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PriceFrom £222.50
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