Although South Africa possesses a huge, highly organized tourist industry, that tourist industry, however, has not scratched the surface let alone dented it of the colossal potential as a tourist Mecca and destination that our country possesses. South Africa could attract four or five times the number of tourists that she is at this moment attracting if only those, whose duty it is to attract those tourists, knew more about their country – about South Africa and knew just how huge is the potential that this country possesses as a Mecca for tourists. It is one of the most shameful truths in our country that those who live within our country’s borders know little or nothing about the country in which they live. There may be those who resent my words but this is a fact and I want to state again that the tourist potential of the Republic of South Africa is grossly under-utilized by those whose duty is to tap into it and to activate it for the benefit of the peoples of this land. If those in authority could know more about South Africa’s tourist potential, unemployment in our country would be cut down by a large percent and we would find hundreds of black people, especially, successfully involved in the tourist industry of our country. I speak as someone who has travelled to many parts of the world, when I say that in some countries you find thousands of people gainfully engaged in their particularly country’s tourist industry whereas in South Africa only a small percentage of people are engaged in this. What is utterly shameful is that, in South Africa, tourism is mostly a white-owned and white-run business and black people, even now, are left out in the cold or if they are engaged in the tourist industry at all, they are engaged simply as employees and paid servants. I have been to countries such as Japan where that country’s tourist industry involves thousands of people. I have been to countries such as South America, especially, where you find hundreds of native Americans gainfully involved in their country’s huge tourist industry. Furthermore, when tourists arrive in South Africa they are shown many things only from the perspective of the European people and not from the African perspective. For example, they are shown South Africa’s wild life and they are shown this wild life from the viewpoint of white scientists only – from the viewpoint of white settlers only and they are denied the rich folklore that black people – Koi Koi and Koi San people – knew and still know about wild animals. Tourists are shown, for example the South African wildebeest but they are not told what Africans think about this animal and thought about it – that the wildebeest was one of the holiest animals in Africa. It was believed by the various tribes to possess powers of expelling negative spirits and other evil influences from the land and the tail of the wildebeest is used even now by shamans and sangomas as an instrument for exorcising evil spirits from people and from places. Tourists are shown the zebra, they are told that this is a Burchells Zebra or whoever’s zebra and then they are given the Latin name for this African animal. They are never told that to African people the zebra was an animal sacred to the great Earth Mother, an animal whose spoor possessed a power to take away infertility and other female illnesses from black women. I can say, bluntly, that a tourist gets cheated in South Africa in that he or she is denied the great beauty of the fold-lore that our people held and still hold regarding animals. I believe that this gross injustice must be remedied and remedied at once. Zoologist and other scientists have been in Africa for just over four hundred years but Africans have lived side by side with wild animals, birds and insects for millennia and over the years they built mythologies around these creatures, mythologies that should not be denied to those who visit our country’s shores. There are even places in South Africa, places of great interest about which tourists know nothing because those who live within our country’s shores know nothing and care to know nothing about those things. I say again that South Africa is a paradise, a potential paradise for overseas visitors if only those in authority could allow traditional Africans to have their say and to talk to overseas visitors openly just as trained tour-guides do. South Africa does not consist only of scientists. South Africa does not consist only of white settlers. She consists of ancient tribes and communities, which were here long before the first Portuguese ship sailed around the Cape of Good Hope.I am going to talk to you about two places. Two places whose potential as tourist destinations we are going to unveil. The first of these two places is a piece of land called Vulindaba, whose name means open the story or start the story. Vulindaba is at the foot of a range of mountains of the Magaliesberg Mountain system. It lies along a road named Lazy River Road. Vulindaba is going to be opened as a wilderness trail to young people, overseas visitors as well as school children. Vulindaba is a piece of unspoilt countryside. It is a piece of wild bush and grassland. It is a piece of snarling rocks and a steep mountain slope. It is a piece of land on which there still grow some of the ancient flora, which one finds or used to find in this place. There will be accommodation at Vulindaba for young people to spend the night under the South African stars, to listen to stories and to listen to dancing and drum beating – to be one with the spirit of the wilderness and to be one with the spirit of the ancient Mountains of Magadi. This was a land once ruled by matriarchs – a land of hard-working people who were engaged in trade with seafarers far to the east of South Africa. There are many stories in this land. There are many songs, which one can still hear being sung by old men and old women in this area. It is here that one must, once more, reconnect oneself with the bygone days of this country. There is mystery among the Magaliesberg Mountains. There are ancient things that you find here which have never been written about in any tourist brochure. There are historical structures, which still stand on farms in this area. There are ancient mines, which go deep into the entrails of the mountains. Mines, which were dug by people we do not know. People who were mining for something we do not know. There are places amongst the Magaliesberg Mountains, which have been regarded as sacred by black people for hundreds if not thousands of years. Let me tell you about one such place. There is a farm along the Lazy River Road and on the edge of this farm there is a spring of pure water. Water that bubbles out of the earth, travels for a few yards or so and then disappears back into the earth again. Our people called this spring the Spring of Marutwani, who is said to have been a great female healer and prophetess who lived nearly two hundred years ago. For many generations now sick black people, as well as traditional healers, have been coming to the Spring of Marutwani to get its pure healing water and in these two or three decades most the people who have been coming to this place have been members of the powerful Zion Catholic Church, the most powerful free church in South Africa, who have been coming here with plastic containers to get the water of Marutwani’s spring. Now let me show you a blatant injustice – an injustice born of ignorance. There are in England a number of sacred wells and springs whose waters are said to possess healing powers and in my travels to the far away British Isles I came across several such sacred wells and springs and one of them is called Chalice Well. The rusty coloured water that comes out of Chalice Well has been believed by the English people to possess healing powers for thousands of years and the waters of this spring are bottled and exported to distant parts of the world by the English people. But here is South Africa we have got springs like the Spring of Marutwani about which the world knows nothing and the water of Marutwani has got just as powerful healing powers as Chalice Well, Lourdes and other famous places like that in Europe and in England possess. Everybody knows about Chalice Well but nobody knows about the Sacred Spring of Marutwani and the powers – real powers of healing that it possesses. Another thing. In the same area that Vulindaba is, about a few miles away from it, there stands a little hill, a small mountain, which for thousands of years has been viewed by black people as a mountain just as sacred as Mount Zion is to the people of Israel. This mountain is called Intaba kaNgwenya. This mountain stands out above the landscape and is visible from almost anywhere. Black people, especially the Mandebele people, have held the belief that gods from the stars descend upon this mountain on a regular basis and ascend up this mountain also on a regular basis for reasons that we human beings do not know. Hundreds of Ndebele men and women over the decades have claimed to have seen strange creatures whose skins are chalk-white. Creatures with the heads of crocodiles and the bodies of human beings, descending out of the sky and then returning back to the sky from the top of this mountain. Many years ago, when I was a sangoma novice, I heard stories about these strange crocodile gods near the cooking fires of wise men and wise women who had their homes around this amazing little mountain. The farmers upon whose land this mountain stands do not realize what a sacred or an important thing it is and they do not realize how it can be used to attract visitors from far away across the wide belly of Mother Earth. We have got treasures that the gods gave us, but these treasures are unknown to us. This is the tragedy of South Africa. When people visit Vulindaba they shall hear about all this and much more.
Not far away from Vulindaba, across the tarred road that leads to Hartebeespoort, you shall find another place, another farm which, like Vulindaba sits at the feet of the mighty Magaliesberg Mountains, but this farm is unique in that there is a river, the mighty Crocodile River, which flows through the land at the foot of a huge mountain, which old people used to call Nkwe Mountain. This mountain is a huge, massive thing and seen from a certain angle it looks like a gigantic, sleeping leopard with its head resting upon its paws and what is amazing is that there is a visible feature on the slope of this mountain which looks like the open, snarling mouth of the leopard. There are two semi-circular features, which look like the mouth of a beast. The Sleeping Leopard Mountain is joined by a smaller mountain with a sharp point which the old women who used to have their kraals in this place many years ago used to call the Iswele, the Woman’s Breast Mountain, and between the Leopard Mountain and the Woman’s Breast Mountain there is a gap and from behind this gap rises the sun and it goes over the farm to set in the West. We are told that ancient tribal astrologers used to observe the sun and the moon rising from behind these two mountains and they could tell which season it was by which part of the gap between the two mountains was the sun rising at any given time. This farm that I am talking about is now owned by the London based, Women for Peace, the brave women who go into places such as Bosnia and Sarajevo to comfort traumatized refugees and to care for the injured and upon this farm it is our intention to create unique attractions, which visitors will see. One of these attractions will be a healing village where actual healing of people will take place. Traditional healers will be available here to tend to those who require their skills. Also in this place there will be a place for visitors to spend nights and days and there will also be a Garden of Mysteries, with standing stones erected according to traditional African ways. There will also be statues of various African gods, which will be seen in this place. This place, which did not have a name before, has been given the beautiful African name Naledi that means a star or the giver of enlightenment. Here visitors will take part in traditional astronomy and astrology and here stories will be told and visitors will also be shown healing herbs grown in the Garden of Mysteries. They will be shown that and much, much more. Works of art and other beautiful traditional artefacts will be here for sale for those who wish to buy them. It will be a place of Life, a place of Light and a place of Beauty.
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