Manifesting Transformation through a Dream
Mothong African Heritage is a former dump site-turned-into-sacred-sanctuary. The project was initiated in 2001 by Traditional Health Practitioner Mabena, a traditional healer, botanist and proud resident of Mamelodi Township.
Guided by his ancestral spirits, he was directed to a piece of land that was, up to that point, an informal dumpsite, a crime den, a cesspool of murder and rape, a chop-shop for stolen cars, as well as a hideaway for the community’s drug abusers.
In the 1970s and 1980s – during the height of apartheid – the mountain had served as a hiding place for political activists on the run from the authorities. It later gained notoriety as a place of torture when the security police began to use it as an interrogation site for captured activists. Because of its panoramic view of Mamelodi – a hotbed of resistance against the oppression, it further became an observation point for the security forces to monitor activists and events in the township.
By the 1990s it became a wasteland, and at this time he had a series of dreams in which one of his ancestors told him to rescue this piece of land, clean up the rubbish and build a house of healing. While he initially ignored the calling, the visions did not stop until finally, in 2001 he began what appeared to be an impossible task.
Risking life, limb and ridicule; using rudimentary tools and with the help of volunteers, TDr Mabena spent over two years witnessing the atrocities of human nature as he cleared the land of the elements of crime and degradation, subsequently transforming it into a nature conservation site of prized indigenous medicinal plants.
Once a broken, trauma-filled piece of land — a waste-yard where criminals dumped cash boxes looted during cash-in-transit heists, where rapists ravaged their helpless victims and murderers hid bodies — has been transformed and is now a place of learning and healing.
With the assistance of his wife, Mama Mabel Mabena – also a Traditional Health Practitioner, and neighbour Mamorake Moila, over 20 years it has become a friendly place for the community, an educational site, as well as a biodiversity site in partnership with a number of government and tertiary institutions. Mothong African Heritage has become a peaceful botanical garden and heritage site where culturally valuable and important plants are cultivated and protected.