The Tsodilo Hills in Botswana are notable not only for their scenic beauty, but also for the sacredness and spiritual significance of the people who live there. The rock paintings, which date back 20,000 years and are embedded in the hills, have piqued the interest and research of archaeologists and historians.
The rock paintings are estimated to number in the thousands and span 10 kilometers of hilly terrain. According to UNESCO, the indigenous San people who live in the hilly region believe that the Tsodilo Hills are home to the spirits of their gods and departed loved ones.
It is thus forbidden for anyone to commit an evil deed or any action that will result in the death of another or cause insignificant anguish near the hills. Such an action is thought to bring bad luck to the community.
The meanings assigned to the four hills that comprise the sacred site are the most intriguing myth about the Tsodilo Hills. The male hill is the tallest, measuring 410 meters in height, followed by the female hill, the child, and the estranged first wife of the male hill.
According to oral tradition among the San people, the spirits of the dead rest within the female hill and rule over man’s affairs from there. The male hill bears the largest rock, which tribesmen believe bears the footprints of the first spirits who knelt and prayed after the world was created.
The Tsodilo Hills have a significant impact on the belief systems of those who regard it as a powerful spiritual ground. The San believe that some water deposits accumulated over time in an old abandoned mine pit have the potential to bring good fortune to those who wash their faces with them. That explains the hills’ human characteristics, as well as their ability to understand men’s thoughts and feelings.
The hills, according to jenmansafaris.com, are not only home to the inhabitants, but also to archaeological artifacts, rock paintings, and traditions dating back 100,000 years. Archaeologists claim that their discoveries in the hilly region have allowed them to trace the evolution of human existence and culture back thousands of years.
Historians link the rock paintings to human history from the Stone Age to the nineteenth century, as well as environmental changes that occurred during that time. As a result, the government has passed legislation designating the site as a protected area and an important historical relic.
The goal is to ensure that the Tsodilo hills’ traditional values are preserved for future generations. The government has established an office, the Tsodilo Management Authority Trust, to oversee the implementation of these plans.