Tsodilo Hills: the sacred resting place of the spirits of Botswana with human attributes

Stephen Nartey November 06, 2022
Tsodilo Hills. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/ M.casanova

The Tsodilo Hills which is situated in Botswana is not only noted for its picturesque sites but also for the sacredness and spiritual significance of the people. For archaeologists and historians, it is the rock paintings dating back 20,000 years which are embedded in the hills that have been engaging their prime interest and research works.

The rock paintings are estimated to be in the range of 4,500 spanning 10 kilometers of the hilly landscape. The indigenous people of San who reside in the hilly region believe that the Tsodilo Hills are home to the spirits of their gods and their departed loved ones, according to UNESCO.

It is therefore considered taboo for anyone to commit an evil deed or any action that will lead to the death of another or cause inconsiderable anguish near the hills. It is believed that such an action will bring bad omen to the community.

The most intriguing myth about the Tsodilo Hills is the meanings assigned to the four hills which make up the sacred site. The tallest hill which measures 410 meters is the male, the next in terms of height is the female, the third is the child and the fourth is the estranged first wife of the male hill.

Oral tradition among the San people is that the spirits of the dead rest within the female hill and lord over the affairs of man from there. The male hill has in its bosom the biggest rock which the tribesmen believe hold the footprints of the first spirits who knelt and prayed after the creation of the world.

The Tsodilo Hills wield a huge influence on the belief systems of the people who term it as a powerful spiritual ground. The San people are of the view that some water deposits which were collected over a period of time in an old abandoned mine pit have the potential of bringing good fortunes to those who wash their faces with them. That explains the human attributes assigned to the hills and their ability to understand the thoughts and feelings of men.

According to jenmansafaris.com, the hills are not only home to the inhabitants, but also rich in archaeological artifacts, rock paintings and traditions dating back 100,000 years old. Archaeologists say the findings they have made in the hilly region have enabled them to trace the evolution of human existence and culture of the people to thousands of years ago.

Historians point the rock paintings to human existence spanning from the Stone Age to the 19th century and the environmental changes which have occurred over the period. It is for this reason that the government has passed laws to make the site a protected area and an important historical relic.

The aim is to ensure that the traditional values of the Tsodilo hills are preserved for generations to come. There is an office, the Tsodilo Management Authority Trust, that the government has set up to oversee the implementation of these plans.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: November 5, 2022


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