About Giyani | iinfo TZANEEN

Giyani is a north-eastern town in the Limpopo province of South Africa and a former capital of the then Gazankulu district. Giyani is situated at the intersection between the R578 and R81 routes. It is located in the heart of Limpopo Bushveld, on the northern bank of the Klein (Little) Letaba River west of the Kruger National Park. Giyani was established in the 1960s as the administrative centre for the Tsonga people and is now the administrative capital of the 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.
The 'Giyani Ward' at Elim Hospital was named after Giyani in 1969. 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 mission expanded its mission work to a large Tsonga settlement at Masana in Bushbuckridge and at Shiluvana settlement near Tzaneen.
The area was inhabited by the Risinga Community, led by their chief Hosi Homu Chabalala. The Risingas originally came from the Elim district. Before moving to Giyani during the 1880s, they were subjects of Chief Hosi Njhakanjhaka and occupied the land where the village of Shirley is situated today. While still at Elim, Chabalala was an Induna to Hosi Njhakanhjaka. During the 1980’s the Risinga community moved to Giyani, along with the other Chabalala headman, Hosi Siyandhani Chabalala, in search of pastures for their livestock. They settled in the foothills of the Manombe Mountain, an environment similar to what they had left behind at Elim/Shirley.
Also left behind at Elim, was the other Chabalala headman, Nwa-Mhandzi Chabalala, who remained at Levubu river valley until the 1960s. He moved to Bungeni village and became a headman of Hosi Bungeni.
The only Chabalala headman still left in the Elim district today, is headman Nwa-Mhandzi Chabalala. He has a big village called eka-Nwamhandzi under Hosi Bungeni.
The residents of Giyani speak Xitsonga as their first language. Tsonga women perform the xibelani dance while the men enjoy dancing the traditional mpuluto and makhwaya dances. 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 Tsonga people also engage in a custom dance called mchongolo.
The staple diet in Giyani is maize porridge (vuswa), or ‘’pap’’ in Afrikaans and rice, often alternatively eaten with meat, chicken and vegetables (matsavu).
Giyani's economy is predominately rural-based. Cattle, maize, peanuts, tomatoes, potatoes, mangoes and bananas form the backbone of farming. Giyani is a major retail and entertainment centre for the local population. Modern shopping centres, containing all the well-known chain stores, have vastly uplifted the local trade.
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. Fortunately, the viewing of these animals has not yet been commercialized.
Giyani boasts a number of accommodation facilities for tourists. 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 on the north-western side of the Kruger National Park, the latter being a certain bucket list item for foreigners visiting the country. An entrance gate to the Kruger National Park has been approved and will be known as Shangoni Gate. It will be opened at Muyexe Village, 30 km North-East of Giyani. The expectation is that it would bring much-needed development to the nearby villages of Muyexe, Mahonisi and Mtititi, where unemployment is 80%.
There are further plans to develop state-of-the-art conference and sporting facilities, as well as agricultural projects around the villages of Muyexe. Some of the projects are sponsored by the Department of Rural Development. The upgrading of roads between the Muyexe and Giyani from gravel to tar is also underway. The new gate will cut the distance from Giyani to Shingwezi by almost 80 km, which will benefit the locals who will be a hop and a skip away from this internationally known and loved wildlife sanctuary. Not to mention how it would conveniently shorten a journey for tourists driving from Gauteng to visit Shingwezi Rest Camp in the northern section of the Kruger Park.

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