TSHATSHINGO POTHOLES

20May

Tshatshingo pothole is also one of the several sacred sites of the Venda people. The pothole occurs in a geologically deep gorge along the Tshirovha River, is a gigantic whirlpool approximately 15m in diameters. There are three other giant sinkholes in the same location. It is located in Makwarani village. It is believed that this pothole was being used for ritual purposes and also as a dumping place for people who were against the chief of the village. Further, it is also said that local witches were drowned here. All the bodies which fell inside the pothole are never retrieved.

LAKE FUNDUZI

20May

The enchanted body of water known as Lake Fundudzi is remotely located in the Venda region of the Limpopo province, in the foothills of the Soutspansberg Mountains, sacred Lake Fundudzi is one of the few true inland lakes in South Africa. Measuring about 140 hectares and estimated to be at least 10,000 years old, Fundudzi is filled by the Godoni and Mutale rivers. Mysteriously, with no obvious outlet, it never overflows. Different legends are told about the lake. According to the Venda people – a regional ethnic group comprising more than a million people – a sacred python considered to be a bringer of fertility dwells beneath the waters. In ancient times it lived on the surface of the lake and, enjoying human wives, visited them at night when it could not be seen. One time, an inquisitive wife did see it, and her terror so upset the python that it fled deep into the lake. This caused a terrible drought, which only ended when the curious wife walked into the lake to join her serpentine husband. To prevent more droughts in subsequent years young maidens were sacrificed in the same way. In more recent times the performance of the ritual domba dance, part of the initiation rites of young women, is believed to satisfy the lusty python god.

PHIPHIDI WATERFALLS

20May

Phiphidi Falls is one of several natural sacred sites of the Venda people. The others include Lake Funduzi and the Thate Vondo Forest. The falls are used by the elders of the Ramunangi, a Venda clan, for communicating with their ancestors. It is a beautiful cascade of water surrounded by thick trees and lush vegetation. Phiphidi Falls lies within a forest on the Mutshindudi River. The rock above the waterfall is called LanwaDzongolo, and the pool below the waterfall, Guvhukuvhu . Both are considered holy. The Venda believe that the water and the pool are the home of ancestral water spirits to whom they bring offerings of beer and grain. A select group of women of the Ramunangi, known as Makhadzi, or women of power, carry out a series of rain rituals where they speak to their ancestors to pray for rain, health and peace. These sacred sites are the core of the vhaVenda culture and community, and the people believe they should be both respected and protected. Unfortunately Phiphidi Falls, because of its attraction to tourists, has been tampered with and a road built along the river without consulting the custodians.

NANDONI DAM

20May

Nandoni Dam, previously known as the Mutoti Dam, is an earth-fill/concrete type dam in Limpopo province, South Africa. It is located on the Luvuvhu River near the villages of ha-Mutoti and ha-Budeli and ha-Mphego just a few kilometres from Thohoyandou in the district of Vhembe. It is at Nandoni Dam where the Phalaphala FM Royal Heritage Festival which is an annual event that attracts thousands of revellers.

MASHOVHELA ROCK POOL

20May

Lies in the Soutpansberg Mountains of Limpopo, a natural heritage site that forms part of the UNESCO Vhembe Biosphere Region. The Vhembe Biosphere Region includes the northern part of the Kruger National Park, the Mapungubwe. Mashovhela is a sacred site in the Venda culture, still sometimes used by traditional witch doctors in rain-making ceremonies. Mashovela is also known as “the place where the drums are heard”, which hails from a legend about the Venda king Thohoiyanda, who had a magical ‘drum of the dead’. When his enemies approached, he would beat the drum and they would simply drop dead. One night, it was rumoured that the king and his drum disappeared for good, never to be seen again. After that, there were many different theories about where he went. Most believed that the king had disappeared into the Western Soutpansberg. It is in the eerie silence of these mountains that his powerful drums can sometimes be heard. They echo off the rugged cliff faces around the Mashovhela Pool in mysterious power.