Machadodorp, also known by its official name eNtokozweni, is a small town situated near the edge of the escarpment in the Mpumalanga province, South Africa. The Elands River runs through the town. There is a natural radioactive spring here that is reputed to have powerful healing qualities.
The town grew around a station originally named Geluk, after the sheep farm it was built on, but in 1894 the name was changed to honour the Portuguese Major Joachim Machado, an engineer who had surveyed the land for the proposed Nelspruit-Delagoa Bay railway line through the Crocodile River gorge.
The settlement became a capital for a few months from 5 June 1900, but was only declared a municipal town in 1904. This quirk in history happened during the Second Boer War when the Transvaal Volksraad made the town their temporary seat, using railway carriages as their offices and mint after they had to evacuate Pretoria in the face of a British invasion.
A quick-thinking station master rescued a consignment of dying trout by dumping the fish in the Elands River, which formed the start of the town's subsequent role in Mpumalanga's trout tourism industry. With the demise of passenger trains in South Africa, the once-postcard-pretty station closed in 2001 and it is now a derelict ruin.
In the 21st century, Machadodorp's residents either work for the industries feeding a chrome smelter, or the logging industries based on the pine plantations surrounding the town. A large contingent of contract workers employed at the Nkomati mine about an hour's drive out of town also reside in Machadodorp, contributing a large part of the town's economy.
The Komati Gorge, notable for its considerable biodiversity and bluff habitats, forms a backdrop to the town.
In early 2010 the town (along with Nelspruit and Waterval Boven) had its name officially changed. The town was renamed from Machadodorp to eNtokozweni, meaning Place of Happiness. It is often still referred to as Machadodorp despite the name change.
The hills around the town are terraced with thousands of stone walls which form part of a vast complex of settlements, fields and roads. Some tour guides describe these as South Africa's "real" lost city.
Archaeologists and historians have described the ruins as settlements of the baKoni people. Oral records and historical evidence trace the baKoni to at least the early 18th century. The ongoing 500 Year Initiative to rewrite South Africa's history continues to deliver new insights into the extent and complexity of these settlements. An international group of researchers have placed the baKoni settlements in the context of numerous other cases of agricultural intensification, that took place in the precolonial era in different parts of Africa.
Other controversial hypotheses on the origins of these ruins have also been circulated in South Africa:Self-described renegade scientist and esoteric author Michael Tellinger postulates the most radical opposing theory, stating that the "millions" of stone circles and walls constituted a massive power grid covering southern Africa, which an ancient civilisation would have used to resonate and conduct the sound frequency of earth into another form of energy that was presumably harnessed to mine gold.
Anthropologist, Hindu-expert and linguist, Dr Cyril Hromnik, postulates that Dravidian traders, originally from the Gomti river in India, mined and inter-married with the Kung during the first millennium AD and that their descendants were responsible for building the terraces and stone circle dwellings that meander along Mpumalanga's escarpment as "astrological clocks," as well as for creating the Quena - or Hottentot - race.