Mapungubwe cleansed

Alex Matlala

Alex Matlala

Excitement filled the air at Mapungubwe World Heritage Site yesterday when the six families who lived in the area several decades ago co-hosted a cleansing ceremony at the site.

The event was dominated by ululations and dance by descendants of the families who lived there 1000 years ago.

The six families which took part in the ritual are the Leshiba and Machethe royal families, the Lemba clan, the San clan, the Tshivhula clan and Vhangona.

The families converged under the crest of a hill near two mountains believed to be where their ancestors lived.

Each family was given a chance to speak to their ancestors. However, only close family members were allowed to go to the secret place as is traditional and customary.

The event was hosted by the national department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism in collaboration with the Freedom Park Trust and the Department of Sports, Art and Culture.

Deputy minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Rejoice Mabudafhasi and officials from the University of Pretoria were amongst dignitaries who attended the ceremony.

Delivering a keynote address, Mabudafhasi said it was long overdue that the descendants be given a chance to speak to their ancestors in a dignified ceremony.

Mabudafhasi also described the event as a dignified return of the spirits of the ancestors to their home where they will rest in peace.

Mapungubwe is believed to be one of the first kingdoms in Southern Africa.

The University of Pretoria exhumed the remains of the inhabitants of the ancient society for research purposes.

The six families filed claims for the remains to be returned to them.

On October 29, the universities of Pretoria and Wits, as well as the National Flagship Institution, released the remains to the families.

Dr Wally Serote, CEO of the Freedom Park Trust, said the remains of three ancestors, believed to have been kings of the kingdom, would be laid to rest on November 19 at a royal ceremony.

The remains of the other ancestors will be laid to rest the following morning on November 20.