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Place of Memories Photography

Place of Memories

by Mike Rossi


It is said that the forefathers of the baPhalaborwa tribe came from Bokhalaka (present Zimbabwe) under the leadership of a chief named Malatshi. It is uncertain when the migration from Bokhalaka began, but early Portuguese records are said to show that during the 17th century the tribes of the so-called “Monomotapa Empire” were driven southwards by waves of Rozwi invaders from the North. Driven from the Bokhalaka region, the baPhalaborwa went in search of iron ore. They were metal workers who initially settled in the low-veld, as far as Bushbuck Ridge, but were unsuccessful in their search for the metal in the area.


Chief Malatjie 1, the first chief , heard about this land, just west of present day Kruger Park from his scouts. They returned with tales of a fertile soil filled with Kudu, Duikers, Impalas and the essential iron ore. This land they called Phalaborwa, meaning it is “Better than the South”, because of the iron ore they searched for. And so the name Phalaborwa was born.


Inhabited by the Shokane who they quickly routed, they settled on Sealene koppie, a few hundred meters away from Kgopolwe, not far from Loole Kop; and here they began the smelting of iron to manufacture hoes, axes, spearheads and arrowheads. Today Loole Kop does not exist. It has been totally excavated. The hole left, is at least twice the size of the ‘Great hole of Kimberly’.


Both Kgopolwe and Sealene, have been declared national historical monuments by the National Monuments Council, and will be preserved for all time. Kgopolwe is the burial ground of the several Induna, the headmen of the various chiefs and aptly named when translated, The Place of Memories.


There is archaeological evidence of metal workings here. Also proof that shows the Phalaborwa region was occupied by metalworking communities during at least two periods in the last 1 200 years. Two separate phases of occupation, from the 9th to 13th and 17th to 20th centuries, coinciding with trade along the East Coast of Africa. There are over 50 metal working sites dotted around the Phalaborwa region.


Koppies have deteriorated or have been destroyed over the years for various commercial reasons. Many have been living sites – Kgopolwe, Masorini, Loole Kop, Shikumbu were lived on by chiefs, headmen and the people of baPhalaborwa.


On the day I stood below Kgopolwe, surrounded by Mopane trees. The shadows of Nimbus had descended with a warm breeze. Butterfly-shaped leaves fell, fluttering down in semi-circles. My first thought in this darkening gloom was to tell my friend Mike Freedman about this cemetery of forgotten Indunas filled with lost memories. The ghostly aura that surrounded Kgopolwe came to life when the sun seeped through Nimbus onto the koppie. Like a flickering candle the sun moved the shadows about on the dark Mopani forest floor. I thought about the long forgotten dead and felt a cold air sliding down my back. At least they were preserved to rest here forever, unlike their friends on the once beautiful Loole Kop.


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: 00110-1

    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: 00110-2

    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

  • Bespoke Sizes & Specification

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  • "Shadows Over Stone" Collection

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PriceFrom £222.50
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