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By Public Editor - Thabo Leshilo | Aug 27, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 12 ]

THERE'S a magnificent, imposing mountain in Limpopo, just after the Kranskop Toll Plaza on the way to Polokwane, that is always a marvel to see.

The Modimolle Mountain has a story to tell.

It is reputed to be the mountain of ancestors or gods. Its Sepedi name means "God has eaten" in English.

It is so called because, according to legend, whoever has been stupid enough to test the wrath of the gods by climbing to its summit has not made it back alive.

That and similar tales make for great fiction and children's bedtime stories.

But there is an unfortunate side to the riveting folk tale. It is that Modimolle, in all its splendour, might just as well be a huge monument to ignorance.

Taken to heart, such stories militate against the spirit of adventure and experiment that leads to discovery, which is vital for human progress.

There is no shortage of such myths. One that springs to mind is the claim that some people can make rain.

The problem comes when such myths are reported as fact in the media, contributing to the promotion of popular ignorance.

Unfortunately, they are not always innocent and often result in harm. The irrational belief that some people have powers to manipulate lightning and direct it to strike their enemies or those they envy is a case in point. Many innocent lives have been lost to this false belief and mumbo-jumbo.

Equally bad is blind faith in so-called faith healers, spirit mediums, witchdoctors (as opposed to inyangas) seers and other charlatans who prey on the vulnerable by promising miracle cures and instant riches.

Now this is the stuff tabloids thrive on. Like them or hate them, newspapers with the knack for finding unlikely stories about randy gorillas with an eye for beautiful women are a reality on the South African landscape.

They are the fastest-growing segment of the print media for their ability to offer light relief from depressing, deadly serious stuff about corruption and the death and mayhem caused by rampaging "democratic" teachers and nurses.

All that might soon pass, thanks to the ANC's crusade to fix journalism.

Even tabloids, not known for investigative journalism - like the report that exposed the killing of people at a mine owned by well-connected "patriotic capitalists" - are not safe from the ruling party's determination to protect the public from shoddy, "gutter and sensational journalism".

Its discussion document on media transformation, which calls for a punitive statutory Media Appeals Tribunal (MAT), states: "Sensation is ... pursued for its own sake and the balance among education, information and entertainment is missed.

"An approach is then encouraged where each media house competes ... in dumbing down.

"Thus, instead of carefully devised strategies to find and occupy niches, competition develops around 'tabloidisation' of content and pursuit of quantity without quality becomes the new deity."

Judging by the increasing misinformation and bellicosity of ANC members and supporters at public "debates" on the tribunal, it's almost a foregone conclusion that the tribunal will indeed be imposed on the media and the public.

Much has been said about the dire effect the fear of hefty fines, possible jail sentences AND the possible licensing of journalists will have on investigative journalism.

Imagine not being able to find light relief from the daily grind of life in the tabloids.

The outlook becomes grim. The future is not what it used to be: bustling with creative energy.

The Grinch that is the MAT has indeed stolen the party.

COMMENTS [ 12 ]

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Nice Mountain I must say......Dis-agreeing with your opinion on the fact that its just a false statement that people went to that mountain and never make it back alive I must say its a fact.There is another one in Hananwa, few kilometres from Senwabarwana formerly known at Bochum, the mountain is named "Senamoriri" because some part of it has few trees. That is a feared Mountain and there is no doubt about that.While saying this I also consider that fact that we might differ in beliefs and some have acquired the western believe. In my culture the rain can be called and made.......In times of drought we used to gather as villagers and we go out and sort of call the rain....in my mother tongue we say "Re ya go kgatolla" and believe me before we even reach our respective homes the rain will be pouring and from then it will just rain ra gata monola and harvest our healthy crops.

Aug 27, 2010 12:21 | 0 replies

I've heard abt Modimolle and I believe what I've heard. Will never attempt to climb that Mountain.

Aug 30, 2010 10:11 | 0 replies

I doubt that Mr. Leshilo has had an opportunity to peruse any anthropological books. One thing I would recommend is that we don't take things at face value! In order for us to explore greater truths we need to meet reality with a bit of scepticism.We even need to doubt that we exist and we are not just dreaming. On practical bases Mr. Leshilo might be too much of a realist, that for him taking an helicopter to the top of the mountains might disproof all the previously held beliefs. lol

Aug 30, 2010 9:8 | 0 replies

I cannot believe the uniform point of view that is articulated by almost every one who had a comment to make, so far. By the way, I come from the Bochum area and I agree wholeheartedly with Thabo. In all of these stories, not a single person will give you a name, date that someone disappeared up the mountain and never came down. All these are second hand story that we heard from our uncles, neighbours or friends. They are all hogwash and superstition with no recorded occurences at all.

We currently have areas in Limpopo that I would say are slowly turning into a desert, because of the scarcity of rain. Why don't those with the power to bring the rain down, like Nchilo, go and offer assistance? HOGWASH!

Aug 27, 2010 5:26 | 0 replies

Mr Leshilo must go and experience it himself by climbing the mountain and see if he's gonna come back. Come on Mr Leshilo prove the people wrong lead by example

Aug 27, 2010 4:43 | 0 replies

Mr Leshilo must go and experience it himself by climbing the mountain and see if he's gonna come back. Come on Mr Leshilo prove the people wrong lead by example

Aug 27, 2010 4:43 | 0 replies

Mr Leshilo u knw nothing about this things my friend there are lot of this mountains in Bolobedu just name few of them: Maolwe, Thlatja and Mmamorifi. In these mountains a tsonga person is not allowed to climb them and if they do so they'll never come back, we don't really knw what happens but what i can tell u is that they'll never ever come back. So these are not the fairy tales stories its realities

Aug 27, 2010 4:36 | 0 replies

The funny thing about educated people like Mr. Leshilo here is that they all of a sudden become ignorant of the realities of rural life. They show the very same ignorance that they accuse the rural folk of when it comes to what could be termed supernatural stuff.
There are people who practice witchcraft and actually boast about their power to control lightning and that if they want to strike you with it, they can.
The educated and ignorant expect a witchdoctors to do positive things with evil power, something that is impossible. Yesterday I laughed my a*s off at Mr. Mogale's article about pretty much the same thing, but I was disturbed by his assertion that even with all the beliefs in supernatural powers that witchdoctors possess, Bafana Bafana couldn't even proceed to the second round. Someone needs to educate these fellows about the fact that evil power can never be used for good, period. Believe witchcraft or don't, but it exists.
On the other hand, Mr. Leshilo is correct about the fake healers. That is also an old practice that people have used to exploit others' beliefs. One just needs to be careful or otherwise you'll be played for a fool.

Aug 27, 2010 3:54 | 0 replies

Meneer Leshilo, because you think it's a myth, why don't you climb on top of it(the mountain) and see if you can come back? The essence of your argument bears substance though.

Aug 27, 2010 3:35 | 0 replies

Well, I am not suprised from ill informed journalist to public editor, get a bit research on your content sir before you tell us hogwash. Ask peopel around Modimolle they will tell you that no one has ever captured the upper side of the mountain and many other no go areas are there. It is within journalsitic trend of Mr Leshilo to mislead or give little content of the subject is tryig to raise as a fact.

Aug 27, 2010 1:50 | 0 replies

The problem is if you have only heard people talking about this things you will always not believe them. But for people like us, we believe them because we experienced them first hand Mr Leshilo. @Nchilo, I hope Mr Leshilo got the message

Aug 27, 2010 12:52 | 0 replies