Hotel opens to honour Rain Queen Modjadji

Michael Sakuneka

Michael Sakuneka

The legacy of the late Rain Queen, Mokope Modjadji V, will live for a long time after the opening on Friday of a new multimillion-rand hotel built in her honour.

The Queen Modjadji V Hotel, as it will be known, is situated at Lebyeng mountain, about 1km from the Modjadji Royal Palace and was officially opened by Deputy Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi.

It is also only a stone's throw from the protected and internationally acclaimed Modjadji Nature Reserve.

It was built at a cost of R13million, part of which was donated by former president Nelson Mandela after his courtesy visit to the late queen in 1998.

The construction started more than seven years ago, but was delayed following a dispute between the Modjadji royal house and a senior member of the Balobedu Community Trust, Mathole Motshekga, over allegations of financial mismanagement during the construction process.

The facility includes 20 chalets, a mini conference centre, parking bays and a braai place.

About nine chiefs within the Greater Letaba municipality, who are descendants of the Balobedu kingdom, would enjoy the royalties that would accrue from the hotel.

The chiefs also signed a transfer agreement showing that they were putting the asset [hotel] under the curatorship of the municipality until other disputes had been resolved.

Mabudafhasi said the lodge formed part of a celebration of the culture, history and life of the Balobedu tribe.

She said the people at Modjadji should grab opportunities generated by tourism because it was one of the fastest growing sectors of the SA economy.

She said many tourists preferred cultural tourism because they enjoyed "interacting with communities and learning their cultures".

Mabudafhasi also encouraged villagers to start their own home-stay accommodation in an effort to develop a tourism route for Bolobedu.

Mayor Joshua Matlou said the lodge would be managed by well-trained people consisting of mainly youth from the municipality.