Mifhululu is the magical call of Africa, a haunting melody that resonates in the great hills and gorges of the continent.

It’s a trademark call to celebrate great milestones, births, weddings, ceremonies of thanksgiving for a good harvest, good rains and to salute the gods for the gift of life itself.

South Africa celebrates Heritage Month in September. Mukurukuru Media’s Lucas Ledwaba joins in on the commemoration through these images captured at various ceremonies celebrating the country’s rich cultural heritage.

Mutshongolo, Utah, Mpumalanga…every Sunday traditional dance groups in the rural Ehlanzeni District Municipality of Mpumalanga gather to pit their dance skills against one another. The competition moves from village to village – hosted in the open at taverns where huge crowds gather to enjoy the spectacle. It is the highlight of the week in these villages along the Kruger National Park where communities have stuck to and continue to preserve and celebrate their culture and traditions. Photo: Lucas Ledwaba
Radzambo Cultural Dance competition…crowds of about 25 000 pack the Makhuvha stadium in HaMkhuvha, Limpopo every year in October to watch dance groups compete for honours. Photo: Lucas Ledwaba

“Living heritage is the foundation of all communities and an essential source of identity and continuity. Aspects of living heritage include: cultural tradition, oral history, performance, ritual, popular memory, skills and techniques, indigenous knowledge system and the holistic approach to nature, society and social relationships.” – SA government

Mekgolokwaneeeee…women from the Dipholo Tsa Go Ja Letswai dance group perform during a sod turning ceremony for a road construction project in GaMaila, Limpopo. Photo: Lucas Ledwaba
Diturupa…members of the Joining Free troupe march during the annual diturupa carnival in Makapanstad to celebrate the heroics of the African men from the village and surrounds who served during World War I. Photo: Lucas Ledwaba

“Heritage constitutes a source of identity and cohesion for communities disrupted by bewildering change and economic instability. Creativity contributes to building open, inclusive and pluralistic societies. Both heritage and creativity lay the foundations for vibrant, innovative and prosperous knowledge societies.” United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation

Possessed by song…a man on crutches dances to the music from the tshikona traditional dance during the African New Year celebration in Morebeng. Photo: Lucas Ledwaba
Drummer in trance…a member of the A fofa Maeba dinaka troupe in full spirit during a tombstone unveiling ceremony in Bothashoek, Limpopo. Photo: Lucas Ledwaba

“Living heritage plays an important role in promoting cultural diversity, social cohesion, reconciliation, peace and economic development. In every community there are living human treasures who possess a high degree of knowledge, skills and history pertaining to different aspects of diverse living heritage. It is therefore important for South Africans to reclaim, restore and preserve these various aspects of living heritage to accelerate the use of living heritage to address challenges communities are facing today.” Department of Arts and Culture

a dance for Samora…Mozambican dancers perform during a ceremony to commemorate the 32nd anniversary of the death of president Samora Machel in Mbuzini, Mpumalanga. Photo: Lucas Ledwaba

“Indeed only a human-centred approach to development based on mutual respect and open dialogue among cultures can lead to lasting, inclusive and equitable results. Yet until recently, culture has been missing from the development equation.” United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Tshikona…dancers in formation during the Radzambo Cultural dance competition in HaMakhuvha, Limpopo
hoooriaaaaa…dinaka dancer in full flight during a tombstone unveiling ceremony in Bothashoek, Limpopo. Photo: Lucas Ledwaba
Colours…dancers put as much effort in their outfit as their performances at the Radzambo Cultural Dance competition. Photo: Lucas Ledwaba