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Fertility Cave

Photographer: Kim Ludbrook


Because of the fact that early White settlers brought European Christian beliefs to the shores of South Africa, in the present day many Black South Africans from all of the nine main tribes retain their traditional pre-Christian belief system of ancestor worship in parallel with their Christianity. This mix of the ancestor worship and Christianity is very evident in the members of the United Apostolic Church who make the pilgrimage to the Fertility Caves to both pray to their Christian God as well as chase away evils spirits and connect with their ancestors at a waterfall near the cave. The cave is called 'Fertility cave' because many of the pilgrims pray to God for help in life including more children, money and happiness. The massive cave has a small village built inside it and sees a population of 'Sangomas' or diviners, who help treat pilgrims and help them connect with their ancestors. It is estimated that 80 per cent of Black South African's visit a sangoma in their life.