Musina, previously named Messina, is a copper-mining centre and is the northernmost town in South Africa; 2003 km from Cape Town and 16 km from the Beitbridge Border Post with Zimbabwe. Twenty kilometers east of the town lies the Limpopo River which is a dry river bank that flows on average only once about every seven years.
Copper was first discovered there by Bantu in medieval times. They called it musina, meaning 'the spoiler' because it adulterated the metal they were really looking for which was iron. However, they learned to use the copper and as well as making cooking utensils, fashioned it into ingots which became standard items of barter with other tribes and Arab safari traders.
The copper was re-discovered shortly before the Anglo-Boer War when a prospector, John Pasco Grenfell, met a hermit known as Wild Lotrie who told him about the old Bantu mines. Grenfell was amazed to find rich lodes of high grade copper. The town that grew up to serve the new copper mines was called Messina, from the old Bantu word for copper.
The climate is hot and the town is gay with tropical flowering trees and creepers. There are several exceptionally large baobab trees in and around Musina. One, on the road to Malala Drift, is known as the Elephant's Trunk from the shape of one of its boughs. It stands in a little park named in memory of Eric Mayer, a well-known painter of baobab trees. Another large baobab, on Nonsiang farm, has a girth of 19 m and is 26 m tall.
Musina is the largest producer of copper in South Africa. Other mining in this are is: semi-precious stones, diamonds, magnetite, graphite, coal, iron ore, asbestos.
In 2002 the name was officially changed to Musina.
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