Motouleng Caves, Free State's hidden spiritual gem

by Neo Motl

The Motouleng Caves, buried in the heart of the Free State, are a spiritual sanctuary where African Spiritual leaders come to worship, consult and practice healing.

The name of the caves comes from the Basotho nation meaning fertility. The caves were previously used to house women during Lebolo or initiation school as it is known in modern times. Lebolo is a process in which young girls undertakes to become a women.

Below the caves lay a river that runs in the middle of the mountain, making it a perfect place for the Lebola ceremonies.

"If you are familiar with the African tradition, women go to the river for their initiation while men go to the mount. This cave is next to the river. At the end of the day, it was used a lot by women," says Oliver Esplin from ClarensXtreme Tours. Over a period of time, the caves became a popular destination for visitors.

This led to the women's initiation school being moved to a different location as privacy was vital during the process. "Now at these caves, on weekends and public holidays like Paseka (Passover), there is quite a lot of people coming for their spiritual healing, initiation and baptism," Esplin says.

The Motouleng Caves are now predominantly used for 'Ho Twasa' a process one undertakes when he has a calling from the ancestors, to become a ngaka (traditional healer) or sangoma as they are known in isiZulu. The process of Ho Tswasa may take two to four months.

During this time period, the initiate has to stay in the caves, abandoning the comforts of the modern world to connect with the dlozi (ancestor) who has called the individual to answer the call.

Report by Neo Motloung