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Giyani is a north-eastern town in the Limpopo province, South Africa and a former capital of the then Gazankulu bantustan. Giyani is situated at the intersection between R578 road (South Africa) and R81. It is located in the heart of Limpopo Bushveld, on the northern bank of the Klein (Little) Letaba River west of Kruger National Park. Situated in the northern portion of former Gazankulu, Giyani was established in the 1960s as the administrative centre for the Tsonga people. Giyani is now the administrative capital of Mopani District Municipality. Giyani lies 470 km north east of Johannesburg by road, 104 km from Tzaneen and 105 km from the Phalaborwa Gate of the Kruger National Park.
A traffic junction and shopping centre in central Giyani
|• Total||19.51 km2 (7.53 sq mi)|
|• Density||1,300/km2 (3,400/sq mi)|
|Racial makeup (2011)|
|• Black African||96.9%|
|First languages (2011)|
|• Northern Sotho||2.7%|
|Postal code (street)||0826|
The 'Giyani Ward' at Elim Hospital was named after Giyani, the ward was opened in 1969 and since the first Gazankulu Legislative Assembly was convened at the same time (1969) when the new ward at Elim Hospital was being opened, the Gazankulu Government therefore named the ward at Elim Hospital 'Giyani Ward' in honour of the Gazankulu Capital city. Six years later in 1975, the Gazankulu Government named another newly built Ward at Elim Hospital 'Valdezia Ward' in honour of the first Swiss Mission Station in Valdezia, 10 km east of Waterval township. The Swiss Missionaries did mission work amongst the Tsonga people in the Hlanganani district of the former Gazankulu homeland. Later, the Swiss missionaries expanded its mission work to a large Tsonga settlement at Masana in Bushbuckridge and at Shiluvana settlement near Tzaneen.
Giyani was established during the 1960s as a capital City of Gazankulu by, before the 1960s, the land where Giyani is situated belonged to the Risinga Community, led by their chief Hosi Homu Chabalala. The Risinga Community (under their headman Chabalala) originally came from the Elim district, next to the township of Waterval, above Elim Hospital, where they lived under the authority and were subjects of Paramount chief / Hosi Njhakanjhaka of Elim. Before moving to Giyani during the 1880s, the Risinga Community were subject of Chief/ Hosi Njhakanjhaka and occupied the land where the village of Shirley is situated today and were falling under Elim / Shirley Tribal Authority under Hosi Njhakanhjaka. While still at Elim, Chabalala was an Induna to Hosi Njhakanhjaka. The Risinga community moved to Giyani, along with the other Chabalala headman, Hosi Siyandhani Chabalala, during the 1880s, in search of pastures for their livestock and settled on the foothills of Manombe Mountain, similar to the lands they left behind at Elim/Shirley. At Elim District, the Risinga community left behind the other Chabalala headman, Nwa-Mhandzi Chabalala, who remained at Levubu river valley until the 1960s, when he was forcefully removed in terms of Group Areas Act and dumped at Bungeni village and became a headman of Hosi Bungeni. Headman Nwa-Mhandzi Chabalala is the only Chabalala headman left today at Elim district and has a big village called eka-Nwamhandzi under Hosi Bungeni.
The entire land on the foothills of Manombe Mountain belonged to the Risinga Community until they were uprooted by the Apartheid Government to make way for the establishment of the town of Giyani. The Old Parliament Buildings at Giyani and the old Ministerial Houses as well as the Palace of the then Chief Minister of Gazankulu were built on what used to be the Chief's Kraal and headquarters of the Risinga Community. Across the main road, the Risinga Community used to drive their herds of cattle for grazing at a place known today as Giyani Golf course. Giyani Section E, Section A, Section D1 and D2 and CBD of Giyani, known as Bendstore were villages of the Risinga Community. The Risinga Community was forcefully removed from their land during the 1960s in order to make way for a new Capital of Gazankulu and were dumped at place known today as Homu Block 14 and Makoxa Village with their chief, Hosi Homu Chabalala. Upon their arrival at the foothills of Monombe mountain, they became independent and had their own chief, Hosi Homu Chabalala, he ruled the Homu Tribe which included the Risinga Community until they were expelled from Giyani during the consolidation of Gazankulu homeland. The name Risinga was replaced by 'Giyani'and the Risinga Community lost their land. The only thing that remain of the Risinga Community was a High School at Giyani section D2, named Risinga High School, the school was named after the Risinga chieftainship that was destroyed during the 1960s by the apartheid Government.
The Mabunda Tribe, under chief/ Hosi Ngobe, was situated not far from the Risinga Community, but was not their chief and chief Ngobe or the Mabunda Tribe did not have Authority over the Risinga Community, the Risinga Community had their own independent chief, Chief Risinga. After the expulsion and removal of the Risinga Community in the 1960s, the Mabunda Tribe was allocated land that traditionally belong to the Risinga Community. All the lands where the town of Giyani is situated and surrounding lands belonged to the Risinga Community but the apartheid Government wrongly allocated that land to the Mabunda tribe and banished the Risinga Community into the wilderness at Homu Block 14.
The Risinga Community, under Hosi Homu Chabalala successfully claimed back their land, which includes; Giyani Section E, Section A, Section D1 and D2 and some parts of Section F, the whole of Manombe Mountain nature reserve and the entire Giyani CBD was given back to Hosi Homu Chabalala under the settlements scheme with Government. While the other Chabalala headman, Hosi Siyandhanim, successfully claimed some parts of Giyani Section E and section F and the western portion of Giyani CBD and the koppies or hills at a place known today as Kremetart suburban of Giyani. The claim by Hosi Ngove of the Mabunda clan that Siyandhani is his junior is not valid because Tsonga people DO NOT have super chiefs, all Tsonga headman are INDEPENDENT and are NOT subjected to any higher authority, something that the Nhlapo Commission found to be true, all Tsonga headman throughout South Africa are INDEPENDENT from rule by other chiefs, so Siyandhani is an INDEPENDENT headman and Ngove does NOT have authority over the village of Siyandhani. The same applies to all other chieftainships including Hlaneki versus Maswanganyi/Dzingidzingi/Bode and others in similar situations. This forced arrangement (higher chiefs) has created conflict within affected communities and it affects development projects
Giyani is composed of the following areas (in alphabetical order): B9, Babangu, Bambeni, Basani, Bode, Bode, Dingamazi, Dzingidzingi, Dzumeri, Gandlanani, Gawula, Giyani, Town, (Sections: A, D1, Guwela D2, E, F), Gon'on'o, Guwela, Hlaneki, Hlomela, Homu, Jimu Nghalalume, Khakhala, Khaxani, Kheyi, Kremetart, Loloka, Mageva, Makhuva, Makoxa, Mapayeni, Maphata, Maswanganyi, Matsotsosela, Mavalani, Mavhuza, Mayephu, Mbatlo, Mbawula, Mbhedhle, Mghonghoma, Mhlava-Willem, Mninginisi, Mpepule, Muxiyani, Muyexe, Mzilela, N'wa-Dzekudzeku, N'wa-Mankena, N'wa-Marhanga,Ndengeza, Ndindani, Ndhambi, Ngove, Nkomo, Noblehoek, Nsavulani, Phalawubeni, Sikhunyani, Siyandhani, Thomo, Xamfana, Xawela, Xikhumba, Xikukwana, Ximange, Ximausa, Xitlakati, Xivulani.
Giyani is situated within the sub-tropical zone. It can be very hot in summer, reaching 38 °C in summer and 22 °C maximum during winter. Winters are mild during the day and cold during the nights. Rainfall season is between September and March, while the winter season is from April to August.
Most residents of Giyani speak Xitsonga as their first language. The Tsonga women perform the xibelani dance and the men enjoy mpuluto and makhwaya. The Tsonga people also engage in a custom dance called mchongolo. Xibelani is an African skirt designed to make the wearer's hips look bigger so the shaking can be more apparent. The Tsonga people have their own distinct music when the xibelani dance is performed. The staple diet in Giyani is maize porridge (vuswa or pap in Afrikaans and rice often eaten with meat, chicken and vegetables (matsavu).
On the athletics front the 100 metre sprint ace Peter "Manero" Ngobeni stayed in Giyani section A during the 1980s.
Giyani's economy is predominately rural-based. Cattle ranching and producing maize, peanuts, tomatoes, potatoes, mangoes and bananas forms the backbone of farming. With the economic boom, Giyani has now become a major retail and entertainment centre for the local population. Modern shopping centres, with all the well-known chain stores presented, have vastly uplifted the local trade.
Giyani is having 89 villages, 9 Tribal Authorities of Tsonga and 2 Tribal Authorities of Balobedu. The large part of the town's open land is not developed or settled. Giyani Section A, D1, D2, E,F and Kremetart are affluent residential areas in the town. There are new settlements closer to town but falling under Tribal Authorities such as Risinga view and Church view - Homu block 15 .
The people of Giyani value education, however, there are independent schools in the town, Khanyisa Education Centre, Nkwangulatilo Education centre, High Quality Education Centres, Giyani College of Technology and Management and Muhluri Combine School. For higher education, the youth of Giyani typically attend [[Bates College of Technology]], the University of Limpopo, the University of Venda, the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), University of Pretoria, Tshwane University of Technology, University of Johannesburg, University of the Western Cape, University of Cape Town as well as the North-West University in Potchefstroom and the Vaal University of Technology.
The R81 is the major road that runs through Giyani. It links Giyani to Polokwane and Malamulele and also joins the R524 to Punda Maria entrance gate of the Kruger National Park This route also joins the N1 to Pretoria and Johanesburg in Polokwane, next to the Mall of the North.
Giyani's location in the warm African Bushveld makes it attractive for both local and international visitors. The Giyani Golf course is home to zebra, giraffe, bushbuck and some other herbivores. Viewing of these animals has not yet been commercialized.
At the moment, there are a number of Bed and Breakfast and Guest House facilities for tourists. A few are: Hanyani Lodge, Riverside Guest House, Xisaka Bed and Breakfast, Tihosi guest house, Elridge Mountain Lodge, Rosanna guest house,Nwayitelo Lodge and Mopani Guest House.
Limpopo Lodge (formerly Giyani Hotel) is situated in the centre of town and managed by the Oasis Group. Man'ombe Nature Reserve is located 6 km east of Giyani.
Giyani also borders Kruger National Park on the Western side of the Northern Region. Historically, Giyani had no entry-point to the Kruger National Park even though Giyani shares a long border with Kruger National Park. The plan to open a new gate at Giyani has been approved. The gate which is known as Shangoni Gate will be opened at Muyexe Village, 30 km North-East of Giyani town. This gate will bring much-needed development in the nearby villages of Muyexe, Mahonisi and Mtititi where unemployment is 80%. These villages have been historically poor, despite the fact that they are bordering one of the world best safari destinations. There are plans to develop state of the art conference facilities, sporting facilities and agricultural projects around the villages of Muyexe. Some of the project are sponsored by the Department of Rural Development. The upgrading of road from gravel to tar road is also underway between the villages of Muyexe and the town of Giyani. The road from Shangoni gate to Shingwezi Rest Camp will be constructed at a later stage. The new gate will cut the distance from Giyani to Shingwezi by almost 80 km. The visitors who want to visit Shingwezi Rest Camp from Gauteng by car can also shorten their itinerary by using this new route.