Mr Matsindise Tshivhase (third from right) and close family members during the home-coming ceremony.
For many years the royal Tshivhase family in Vhembe searched all corners of the country for one of their family members, Mr Matsindise Tshivhase.
Matsindise, like many other young village boys, left his home village of Maungani to seek employment in Johannesburg. That was 71 years ago. He never came back home, and the family had been searching for him for many years. They tried everything, but could not trace his whereabouts.
The family's big break came this year when the old man appealed to a local radio station for help. They made a follow-up and it paid off as they were able to trace him to Bronkhortspruit, where he had another family. After consultations with the other family, Matsindise was finally reunited with his family, which is comprised of new members he does not know, as his generation has passed on.
To show their happiness, the family held a very big welcome ceremony for the the 90-year-old man a fortnight ago. Several traditional leaders, family members and other relatives gathered at Thavha Tshivhase's house at Vhufuli for the reunion.
Spotlessly clean in a black suit with a white shirt and new black shoes, Matsindise was the man of the moment.
It was quite an emotional gathering for the family, seeing someone they heard of but had never seen. The old man's nephew, Mr Thavhadziawa Tshivhase, said his being missing had been a painful experience for the family. He added that his father had done everything he could to locate his elder brother, but unfortunately, he passed on before Matsindise could be found.
"To show that we had hope that he would one day come back, and to keep his memory alive, my spaza shop was named after him. We as a family have mixed feelings. We are happy that he is back and alive, but we do not know how he will cope as no one of his generation is still alive.
He added that in all they saw the grace of God and that their prayers had been answered. “We are happy that the ceremony also cemented unity in the family," he said
Matsindise said he left home in search of greener pastures at the Reef. "I worked for the railways and on farms and life became so good that I forgot about coming back home. As age catches up with you, one starts to think constructively, and that was when I started thinking of home. All I wished for was to come back as I did not want to die far away from my people, " he said.
Mr Tshodzulaho Tshivhase, who transported him from Gauteng, said he had not eaten on the way, saying he wanted to reach home first. "He kept asking whether people were still using the bushes to relieve themselves. One thing I admire about him is his sharp memory. He still remembers many people and places. We are elated as a family to have him back," he said.
Date:25 November 2017 - By: Elmon Tshikhudo
Elmon Tshikhudo started off as a photographer. He developed an interest in writing and started submitting articles to local as well as national publications. He became part of the Limpopo Mirror family in 2005 and has since been a familiar name among the newspaper's readers.