Mujaji and the Rain Medicine

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(Lovedu/South Africa)

Mujaji (Modjadji or Modhadje), ruler of the day, is an honorary title bestowed on the ruler or queen of the Lovedu. She is also referred to as the rain goddess and transformer of the clouds (Khifidola-maru-a-Daja) because of her ability to produce rain. Four rulers bearing the title “Mujaji” have ruled over the Lovedu as rain goddesses. The Mujaji line has descended from a mambo, son of the once mighty Monomotapa of the Karanga empire in Zimbabwe. She possesses a mysterious power and medicine for making rain, and is considered to be immortal and inaccessible. At the center of the agricultural cycle, rain is the focus of many human interests: as the elixir of life, it is one of the ultimate bases of man's sense of security, and as a manifestation of celestial grace, it is the supreme justification of the divine right of the queen to rule. The chief actor in the rain cult is the queen. During life, she is not merely the transformer of the clouds, she is regarded as the changer of the seasons and guarantor of their cyclic regularity; when she dies, the seasons are out of joint and drought is inevitable. Her very emotions affect the rain; if she is dissatisfied, angry, or sad, she cannot work well. Her rainmaking is not confined to dramatic ceremonies in time of severe drought; it is conceived of as continuous care throughout the summer.

Dzugudini, a daughter of the mambo, had to flee southward because of an illegitimate son, Makaphimo; it was said that his father was Dzugudini's own brother. Their descendants about the year 1600 became the rulers of the Lovedu in the mountainous northeastern Transvaal. Dzugudini's mother stole the rain medicine and the sacred beads, and taught her daughter their value before the daughter fled with them. Initially, the Lovedu were ruled by males, among them Makaphimo, Muhale, Pheduli, Khiali, and Mugede. Mugede committed incest with his daughter, Mujaji I (about 1800), who became the first rain goddess. Her fame spread far and wide, and great leaders such as Soshangana in Gazaland, Shaka of the Zulu, and Moshweshwe of the Sotho appealed to her for rain. In the wars between the Africans during the first half of the nineteenth century, it was Mujaji's reputation that saved her people. About 1850, Mujaji I was succeeded by her daughter, Mujaji II (fathered by Mugede). See also: Dzugudini, Khuzwane.

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