The Mountains Can Tell My Story

By Keketso Motale

If there is a picture that captures and tells my story it should be this one.. In no more words but mountains that have heavily and protectively cloaked and nourished my being. It speaks of the untold stories not only of mine but the men and women who daily leave their homes to seek and search for themselves and heal their brokenness find refuge. These mountains have shielded and protected me from the coldness of life but didn’t spare me from its harshness. I have bowed and made offerings to different alters bringing me closer to myself.
If no one can tell my story these mountains could tell you of my joys, loud laughter, sadness, dreams, aspirations, battles I fought and won and pain I shared. There has never been a moment I walked away hopeless and powerless for each moment I walked in to rejuvenate and reinstill hope lost, I picked up shattered pieces of my spirit. It’s in these mountains I saw how darkness coexists with light as I dipped my weary bones in the cold waters and ascended the mountains just so I can find myself under the showers of a waterfall begging and pleading for nature to heal and restore me.
Each day I would bend to find myself safely cloaked in its womb so I can call upon Amathuna Amasha Namathuna Akudala to plead on my behalf to the heavens to strengthen me. I have found so much strength in my weakness and vulnerabilities. I overcame what many didn’t survive for these mountains chose me and in them I forsake all my fears and wore my faith, for these mountains that have housed our ancestors continue to be a place I call home more than my parents house because even in flaws, faults and mistakes their continue to envelope me in their light and good.
These mountains tell my story and that of those who have packed their lives away carrying what their brokenness could bear and find a home among strangers with their ancestors by their side. This is a place I step in with confidence and renewed vigour for not even once have they ever turn their backs on me. They find ways to call me back home to recharge and nurture me. It’s the one place where I never find myself hungry because my spirit is constantly fed. These mountains have taught me the true meaning of love and given me a family I never asked for but needed.
It’s in these mountains I fought the greatest battles of my life and reaffirmed my title as a child of mountains and waters, no rituals and spells could ever overcome engulf and consume me. It is with my candles, offerings and my voice I have won these battles immersing myself in roaring rivers to silence ranging wars waged by those who feed on the young and innocent. Those altars saved my life from the main one at the entrance all the way to Mokgorong the lit candles carried my prayers as they reverberated in the heart of that cave. I have knelt, sat and lay on the mountain walls telling it my story hiding nothing. Go ask it, it will tell you how I have lived and never gave up no matter how hard its been.
In all the years I have never carried my bags across the roaring river for the moment I step onto its banks and pray at the first altar (tafoleng) all my burdens dissipate where we lay our burdens before crossing to the other side. If I could not tell my story go and ask Motouleng, go ask Mautse, Tiite, Lekwa and Zambezi, Gonubie, Blue bay and ocean mouth at Manguzi, the Indian and Atlantic ocean what tales and prayers I have offered for my wellbeing. When I could no longer speak my prayers will continue to echo for generations to come for I have served no one but my path and honoured my journey. When I could no longer tell my story ask those anthills I opened and pleaded to tell it word by word in my floundering voice.
In all the years on this journey I have not known anything besides those mountains and waters; and what praying in them has done for me…
Picture credit: Talk to Ma’at
Location: Motouleng (Fertility caves)
Keketso Motale
Sangoma Healer

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