Cannibals Caves: the secrets of Lesotho.
Ha Koma Caves in Lesotho believed to be where cannibals hid during the time of Moshoeshoe 1.
‘For a moment I become a Vegetarian’.
Hannibal Lector’s gastronomic and culinary delights could add an interesting twist to dinner table conversations about paleo diets and vegan beliefs.
Admittedly, although I am a carnivore, each time I watch a truck loaded with cattle or pigs on the way to the abattoir, I become an instant vegetarian for a few moments. To me there is nothing to beat pork crackling and those in the know say ‘people’ taste a lot like pork. I’m not too sure how they know but irrespective I am appalled at the idea of serving honey-basted Auntie Mary, or anyone else for that matter, as the Sunday roast.
Cannibals and the Father of the Nation
One of the most interesting stories surrounding cannibalism involved Moshoeshoe 1st, Lesotho’s father of the nation. Born in 1786, he was an astute young man who cherished his grandfather, old ‘Peete’ above all else.
Old ‘Peete” caught by the Cannibals
During his reign he was forced to move the defenceless Basotho clans to the top of Thaba Bosiu mountain to protect them from war faring invaders. Much like Nelson Mandela, Moshoeshoe 1st had an extraordinary ability to unify diverse groups. During this journey his people suffered insurmountable obstacles as they had to pass through areas plagued with famine and poverty. Even worse, these areas were haunted by groups of cannibals forced by starvation into devouring human flesh and thus had acquired a taste for mankind.
At one point some of the women, babies and old ‘Peete’ became separated from the main group which was when the cannibals grabbed the opportunity to fill their stock pot. A few of the women were found but nothing more was ever seen of old ‘Peete”. It was believed that the cannibals had hidden in a series of exquisite sand-stone caves perched on the edge of a valley not far from Moshoeshoe’s mountain stronghold, Thaba Bosiu. Others believe that the local clans cowered in these caves to hide from the cannibals but either way the caves hold a strong mystical energy.
The grave of the grandfather.
From that day forward Moshoeshoe refused to allow anyone
to harm the cannibals referring to them only as the graves of his grandfather.
Years later Moshoeshoe faced a dilemma when it came time for his eldest son to attend his circumcision ceremony. As the son of the king, the boy could not attend the ceremony unless all ancestral graves had been cleansed and no grave left defiled.
He summons all the cannibals to attend a meeting at Thaba Bosiu. They were terrified of the retribution facing them and feared torture and death. However, Moshoeshoe with his wise ability to find solutions simply ordered animal offal to be rubbed all over the bellies of each cannibal and in this way cleansed old Peete’s grave.
The caves still exist.
The sand-stone caves still exist and have been restored to their former glory but are still remote and silent away from the throb of civilization. People still live in these caves and there is a lot of speculation as to whether they are in fact ancestors of the cannibals or simply folk who took over occupation at a later stage. However, fire holes are still indented into the rock floors and the deep crevices behind the rocks cover secrets and rituals which leave much to the imagination.
There is a very old lady, who is wizened by age and who tells stories in a vague abstract style as she sits in front of her small home in the sandstone enclave. I’m not sure how much is fact or imagination but when she looks at you vaguely with reddened eyes her stories come to life. You can almost hear the thud of the drums. It is a fascinating experience to visit these remote caves.