Executive Director: Mphatheleni Makaulule – (Phangami- Mulisa) 

Mobile phone & Whatsapp:  +27 7949 35 200  E-mail: mupofood@gmail.com   

Mphatheleni, is a mother to her two sons Thama and Ndima of the Dima Nemalale clan. A daughter of the late Makaulule Ratshili Aron, a traditional healer, farmer, and leader hailing from vhongwaniwapo (indigenous) clan of the VhaVenda nation, in the northern region of South Africa. She breast from her mother Vho Maria Fhirisani , the daughter of the oldest Traditional leader, Khosi Vho Kingi Matamela Davhana Nesengani.

Vho-Mphatheleni Makaulule “Mphathe” an environmental activist and defender of the sacred sites was born when her father was 74 years old. She is the founder of Mupo Foundation which the Venda local communities re-registered in 2015 as Dzomo la Mupo. In her work, she facilitates the interaction on issues of environmental injustices through community ecological dialogues and facilitates ecological mapping of indigenous knowledge. 

In 2004 she received a Bill Clinton Fellowship at City Year for leadership training in the USA’s universities and other civil society organisations for over 2 months.

For more than 35 years,  Mphathe has been working with the Venda elders -whom she calls “libraries of knowledge”- and youth, particularly women, for the transfer of indigenous knowledge to the younger generation.  This further earned her a Global Leadership Award in 2013 after being announced as one of the 3 runners of the UN Forest Hero finalist in 2011.  

She obtained her master’s degree from the University of Venda in African studies in 2023 – paying attention to indigenous knowledge perspectives on holistic indigenous uses of the Luranga cucurbit pumpkin plant. In her research, the findings revealed the interrelated functions of Luranga on the nourishments as food, material products used for multiple purposes, and ecological, spiritual, and psychological identity associated with womanhood.

In 1998, she graduated with her B.A ED junior degree from Univen, and has since been igniting enthusiasm to bring Mupo back as principles attached to Vhavenda cultural traditions. Mphatheleni works closely with the Makhadzi of the communities – (women or we-moon as she prefers to call ‘women’)

Mphathe is working with communities on ecological mapping of the territories and ecological calendars for raising the voices of indigenous knowledge where communities’ voices became marginalized due to the planned projects that interfere with the ecosystems, indigenous forests, and the livelihoods rooted in African traditional cultural values.

Mphathe facilitates Indigenous Knowledge System (IKS)  dialogues for the interaction on issues of environmental injustice through the collaborations of local Vhembe district communities. Working with Prof. Netshandama she collaborates with the University of Venda community engagement. The collaboration reaches Mphathe to bring academic vigor to Dzomo la Mupo and the facilitation reaches Dzomo la Mupo to establish a further network with Vhahangwele Lithole to engage the  Ekuruleni branch of Unisa community engagement. She, again creates spaces of intergenerational learning for national international University students through academic research on their programs for collecting data.

She is an Earth Life Africa Community Mobiliser on unearthing community knowledge particularly marginalised communities through equipping them and their youths on current issues and concepts as a reach out to Just Transition alternative on the drive of Indigenous knowledge and ecological mapping.

As a non-executive Director of Wild Law Institute, Makaulule represents the indigenous voice and the activists representing community voices on the mission of the Rights of Mother Earth. The Wild Law Institute is dedicated to pioneering laws and practices that recognize and uphold the rights of every member of the community of life, as a foundation for building ecologically sustainable and just societies.

Mphathe is one of the panelists of Indigenous Knowledge /Intangible Cultural Heritage National Authentication: S.A Department of  Sport,  Arts and Culture.

For years, Mphathe has reached out to pioneer the youth to lead Dzomo la Mupo and has finally passed down the baton to her protege  Mupo-given daughter, Adivhaho as a Deputy Director of Dzomo la Mupo.



Deputy Excecutive Director: Adivhaho Mpho Nengwekhulu

Origins: Adivhaho was brought to Dzomo la Mupo by nwana Ester Obassa. Ester Obassa has been Mphatheleni Personal Assistance for  4 years. ( obasaadebusayo@gmail.com)

Adivhaho “ADI” is an IKS practitioner who believes in the promotion of One Health For All through understanding the connection of nature and people. Since she became a member of Dzomo la Mupo in 2021 after receiving an invitation to attend the general meeting she then volunteered as an office assistant and also believes that African De-colonial indigenous conservation can be achieved by going back to the past, bringing back sustainable practices, and implementing them for a sustainable future.

Nengwekhulu is a Bachelor of Indigenous Knowledge Systems (BIKS)  honors pupil as well as a student research assistant at the University of Venda Directorate of Community Engagement,  where she serves as the link to Dzomo la Mupo under the leadership of Prof Vhonani Olive Netshandama. Her passion for climate change and the promotion of renewable energy is influenced by Earth Life Africa which is a partner of Dzomo la Mupo in environmental activism, issues relating to climate change, and renewable and sustainable energy sources.

Adivhaho began working very closely with Vho Mphatheleni as a trainee and has championed being an aspiring young deputy director of Dzomo la Mupo. Following Mphathe’s footprint in engaging communities through cultural biodiversity dialogues; protection of indigenous forests; promotion of indigenous tree nurseries and Agroecological farming methods, she understands the need to map the community territories for sustainable nature conservation. Furthermore, she is an IKS student ambassador in Biodiversity Conservation, Education, Research, and Advocacy. This protege is indeed Vho-Mphatheleni’s daughter, if not the reincarnation, from the way she has deeply pioneered through her Dzomo La Mupo journey is reason enough to announce her as the successor.

Adivhaho had her leadership training from Lionhearted Leadership Academy with the Global White Lion Foundation where she was trained to be a leader who leads by the heart, not by the mind and personal interests. She got to deeply understand the importance of connecting with the surroundings, communicating effectively, and collaborating with those who share the same vision, goals, and common interests. Adi’s training was one of the important leadership training as it taught her how to be strong emotionally, physically, socially, and spiritually.

Her vision for Dzomo La Mupo is for a Sustainable NPO which is a center for African De-colonial Education, For Dzomo La Mupo Cultural Biodiversity hub To be a school of Indigenous Knowledge Systems where local, national, and international people come and learn Indigenous ways of VhaVenda Cultural. Her everyday dream is to engage more youth in conservation, protecting, patenting, and documenting the indigenous knowledge from the elders as the knowledge is at risk of perishing when the elders pass on.









  Cell  No : +27780073897


Dr. Kimberly Ross Education Programme Coordinator 

Dr. Kimberly Ross transitioned from Research Assistant to Educational Programme Coordinator in the summer of 2017. Kimberly has a range of experiences as a high school and post-secondary teacher. She recently completed a PhD program in African American and African Studies at Michigan State University and has traveled to South Africa several times since 2012. https://kimberlybernitaross.weebly.com/   In 2015-2016, she conducted 6 months of field and archival research to complete her dissertation titled, Traditional Terrain: Land, Gender, and Cultural Biodiversity Preservation in Venda, South Africa. Kimberly’s interdisciplinary, qualitative research utilizes African-centered theoretical frameworks and gender paradigms. Through her research she examines the colonial social formations that historically and presently disrupt the ancestral and ecological role of the paternal aunt, known as the makhadzi— and the gendered, socioeconomic, and environmental implications in a globalized, post-apartheid era. She will be supporting Dzomo La Mupo’s educational outreach by organizing opportunities for grade school children, teens, and university students to learn directly from African Indigenous Knowledge practitioners. Under Mphatheleni Makaulule’s guidance, Kimberly has learned to approach education holistically for “the management of life and the community.” She draws from Makaulule’s educational concepts, cultivated with the African Biodiversity Network, and her dialogues with indigenous communities and elders in Venda, the Northwest Amazon, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Botswana. These communities acknowledge a respect for one’s ancestors and an awareness of land in the territory (Shango).

Cultural Biodiversity for intergenrational learning (Coordinator)-Prof Netshandama V.O


Intergenerational Learning Coordinator- Tsakani

Ruth DammWebsite Development 

Dzomo la Mupo organisational structure

Current Dzomo la Mupo management committee:

ChairpersonMr. Vhavenda Vho-Netshilungwi M.A

Deputy chairpersonMrs. Mudau T.B

Secretary – Nevhudoli Dolphus

Deputy Secretary -Netshidzivhe Tshilidzi

Treasurer- Ms. Tshishoti Rudzani


Additional guardians – Vho-Makhadzi Vho-Nevhutanda Nyamukamadi (Mrs) and Vho-Makhadzi Vho-Netshidzivhe Joyce (Mrs). The chief of Tshidzivhe and the chief of Vhutanda are also in the committee as advisors.

Board Members

Vhavenda Vho-Ramudingane N.(Mr), Makhadzi Vho-Makoma D (Mrs), Makhadzi Vho-Nemarude M.J (Mrs), Chief/Khosi Vho-Netshidzivhe .N.N (Mr), Chief/Vhamusanda Vho-Nevhutanda N.P (Mr).

Dzomo la Mupo first Deputy Chairperson – Makhadzi Vho-Tshisikhawe is now an advisor to all sacred sites zwifho clans. She is the one who welcomes new members to DLM.

Johannes Ramunangi was the first Chairperson of Dzomo la Mupo from 2007 – 2012. We will always remember him and his legacy to DLM. Johannes passed away in 2016 and has joined the ancestors.

Head of collaborations: Univen Community Engagement


She acknowledge and shows gratitude to elders(indigenous knowledge holders) The 2018 Heritage Day Symposium promotes intergenerational learning | University of Venda (univen.ac.za)