AFTER DRIVING 180 kilometres from Polokwane airport I notice the landscape beginning to change from scrubland to the rich tangle of trees and mountains of Venda. I start to see more and more of the magnificent baobab trees and sense muyamufhe, the Venda word for the special quality of air and atmosphere found in forests and sacred places. I am in the most rural province of South Africa, heading for the extraordinarily biodiverse Soutpansberg Mountains. Venda was an ‘independent homeland’ in the apartheid era and has been re-

incorporated into South Africa since the first democratic elections ...


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