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 can be passed on to the future generation.
Celebrating heritage month, Mabena said heritage and culture is not something one could take off like a jacket and wear it again tomorrow when they need it, it’s in our DNA. he said we learn and should learn from the animals and biodiversity because animals do 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 can heal people from the coronavirus. Some dont know that a plant that can heal people and can also be found on the very 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.
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.