Guest author: Roberta Eaton ~ Beliefs and myths of southern Africa V: The Venda

Roberta Eaton, aka Robbie Cheadle, shares the third of her posts on the beliefs and myths of her home. Other posts in the series can be found by cicking here: Part One, Part TwoPart Three, Part Four

Beliefs and myths of southern Africa – The Venda

The Venda-speaking people originated from the Great Lakes of Central Africa. The Venda settled in the Soutpansberg Mountains, South Africa’s northern-most mountain range which takes its name from the salt pans that lie at its based near the western end. The Venda built their first capital, D’zata, meaning a good place, in the Nzhelele Valley. The D’zata ruins still exist today and have been declared a South African national monument. D’zata was important for the Venda people as they buried their chiefs facing it.

Image of the D’zata ruins from

God and the afterlife

The Venda people are artistic, and this is reflected in their vibrant mythical belief system. Water is an important feature in the Venda belief system and there are several sacred sites where the Venda conjure up the ancestral spirits.

Lake Fundudzi, an inland lake system that lies in the heart of the Soutpansberg region, is held sacred by the Venda. The name is derived from the words fundu (to bend) and dziba (a large pool) and relates to the greeting which was expected from all visitors to the lake. This greeting involves the visitor bowing his/her back to the lack and viewing it from between their legs.

Image from

 One of the beliefs about Lake Fundudzi is that a sacred python, which is considered to bring fertility, lives beneath the water. In ancient times, the python lived on the surface of the lake and had human wives. The python visited them at night when he could not be seen. One inquisitive wife did see the python and her terror so upset the python that he fled deep into the lake. His withdrawal into the lake caused a terrible drought which only ended when his inquisitive wife walking into the lake and joined her husband.

A white crocodile is also believed to live in the lake. When a Venda king died, his remains were placed in the lake. The crocodile would then cough up a stone which the new king had to swallow. The white crocodile is said to guard the ghosts of the ancestors of the Venda who are believed to reside beneath the surface of the lake.

Venda rituals

The Domba is a pre-marital initiation that is only attended by Venda girls. Historically, both boys and girls attended the Domba after they had attended other separated initiations specific to their gender. This changed when the missionaries declared ti was immoral for males and females to participate in the same ceremony.

The Domba is called by the chief or sovereign and has two main functions, as follows:

  1. It teaches girls how to prepare themselves to become wives including birth planning, giving birth, child care and how to treat a husband; and
  2. Bringing fertility to the new generation of the tribe.

The final stage of a young woman’s initiation is to participate in the Domba, or python dance, which is held annually at Lake Fundudzi. The girls line up in single file, forming a chain, and dance in long, winding lines, like a snake. The dancers traditionally wear small aprons covering the back and front, with tasseled ornaments called thahu.

Myths and Legends of southern Africa by Penny Miller

About the author

Robbie, short for Roberta, is an author with five published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with her son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about her mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with her mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton).

All of Robbie’s children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications. Robbie has recently branched into adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differentiate her children’s books from her adult writing, these will be published under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. Robbie has two short stories in the horror/supernatural genre included in Dark Visions, a collection of 34 short stories by 27 different authors and edited by award winning author, Dan Alatorre. These short stories are published under Robbie Cheadle.

Find and follow Roberta Eaton

Roberta Writes Blog     Twitter    Facebook

While the Bombs Fell

TSL Publications     Lulu

What was it like for children growing up in rural Suffolk during World War 2?

Elsie and her family live in a small double-storey cottage in Bungay, Suffolk. Every night she lies awake listening anxiously for the sound of the German bomber planes. Often they come and the air raid siren sounds signalling that the family must leave their beds and venture out to the air raid shelter in the garden.

Despite the war raging across the English channel, daily life continues with its highlights, such as Christmas and the traditional Boxing Day fox hunt, and its wary moments when Elsie learns the stories of Jack Frost and the ghostly and terrifying Black Shuck that haunts the coastline and countryside of East Anglia.

Includes some authentic World War 2 recipes.

Robbie also writes as Robbie  Cheadle

Robbie’s Inspiration Blog      Goodreads    Facebook    YouTube

Amazon author page   Twitter: @bakeandwrite

Books by Robbie and Michael Cheadle

The Sir Chocolate books are a delightful marriage of story, verse and cookery

… a perfect recipe for sharing with children.  Silly Willy goes to Cape Town tells the adventures of two very different brothers…and includes five party cake ideas.

You can purchase the Sir Chocolate books from:

Amazon    TSL Books

or you can buy them in South Africa directly from the authors by emailing Robbie Cheadle at

Tell me a story…

If you are a writer, artist or photographer…If you have a poem, story or memoirs to share… If you have a book to promote, a character to introduce, an exhibition or event to publicise… If you have advice for writers, artists or bloggers…

If you would like to be my guest, please read the guidelines and get in touch!


About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
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23 Responses to Guest author: Roberta Eaton ~ Beliefs and myths of southern Africa V: The Venda

  1. Ritu says:

    So many more interesting beliefs and customs!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Patty says:

    Reblogged this on Campbells World.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you, Sue, for hosting this post. The myths of the lake are my favourite to date.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mary Smith says:

    Really interesting, as always, Robbie and that dance is so sinuous – just like a snake.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Reblogged this on Roberta Writes and commented:
    I am visiting Sue Vincent’s delightful blog with a post about the Venda-speaking people of southern Africa, their myths, beliefs and a fascinating snake dance.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Clive says:

    Another fascinating glimpse into a culture about which I knew nothing! It’s good to have our eyes opened like this.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Pingback: Guest author: Roberta Eaton ~ Beliefs and myths of southern Africa V: The Venda | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  8. Fascinating. I can well imagine that the Venda might look at us through similar eyes of curiosity. While neither may wish to trade places, it is interesting to see how “the other half” lives. Thank you, Robbie.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. It was very interesting. Thanks, Robbie and Sue.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. This particular post had me very interested in this history. Thanks so much for sharing, Robbie! (a little late on the comment, playing catch up!)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Andrew Joyce says:

    Love the history. Great post!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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