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Mamelodi’s Mothong Heritage Site a university of nature for local schools

Ephraim Mabena at the Mothong Heritage Site in Mamelodi west. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Ephraim Mabena at the Mothong Heritage Site in Mamelodi west. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Sep 23, 2020


Pretoria – The Mothong Heritage Site in Mamelodi West has become an educational area and universtiy of nature for local schools which pass on indeginous knowledge about biodiversity.

Ephraim Mabena, who turned what used to be an illegal dumpsite into a heritage site on the Magalies mountain range, said each and every house had a teacher with indigenous knowledge that could be passed on to the future generation.

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Celebrating heritage month, Mabena said heritage and culture was not something one could take off like a jacket and wear again when they needed it, as it's in once’s DNA. He said we learn and should learn from the animals and biodiversity because animals did not forget how they behaved, it was in their nature.

“It's just unfortunate that we are living in a world where there's so many things that pollute us and our minds and we tend to lose focus. At the end of the day we think that when it's heritage month we can go fetch that heritage jacket and wear it and then after September we take it off. You cannot take ubuntu off yourself, so therefore it's time that we practice this on a daily basis,” he explained.

As a traditional healer, Mabena said his role was not just about fetching plants and not giving back. He said even now during Covid-19, everybody was searching for a plant that could heal people from the coronavirus. Some don’t know that a plant that can heal people and can also be found on a mountain that has been turned into a dumpsite.

Mabena spends most of his time on the mountain maintaining the plants and on some days he is in his office documenting all that is to be learned. He said he needed support especially from the local government because there were many indigenous knowledge holders out there even though they might not be traditional healers.

“I grew up in a family that had teachings and I have never changed the way they have taught me. I will always continue to be the teacher to other people. We should have never diverted from the teachings of our parents. Black people always had a disciplined upbringing and staying indoors is not new to us, it is necessary,” he said.

He said the ancestors were very angry now to such an extent because we were misbehaving and causing havoc. Mabena cautioned that the issues of Covid-19, drought or climate change was a sign that the ancestors or the creator can take his mountain or the rain and put it in his pocket.

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He said if we did not look after our natural resources that God gave us, he can give and can take and sometimes discipline us because people thought they know better.

He said all these things were happening because God was trying to address us and make sure that we listen because nature has played an excessive role religiously, socially and culturally.

*For the latest on the Covid-19 outbreak, visit IOL's #Coronavirus trend page.

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** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999 or visit

Pretoria News

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