Knowledge of the protection of sacred sites, and indigenous forests is held in the memory of the elders, and in particular the women custodians (the makhadzis). The elders are experienced in the governance of their ecosystem for maintaining the territorial order and the balance of the seasonal cycles which regulate the climate. They recognise that sacred sites are vital in maintaining the health of their territory and human wellbeing, and as well as being home to an abundance of biodiversity, they are also the source of the water systems which flow through communities, providing them with life. When they are destroyed, a steady collapse of the environment and livelihoods will ensure, as we are seeing across the world.

The protection and defense of sacred sites plays a vital role in indigenous living and is core to the work of the Mupo Foundation.

D Z O M O  L A  M U P O

Dzomo la Mupo (meaning ‘the voice of Mupo’) exists alongside the Mupo Foundation as a group of community members and sacred site custodians (many who are Makhadzis) who come together to stand up against threats to their sacred sites. Working together they are defending their rights as well as reviving the value of the makhadzi and the sacred finger millet.

Dzomo la Mupo has been a central driving body in the legal fight for protecting sacred sites. Members of the committee took those responsible for the destruction at the Phiphidi waterfall to court and were successful in gaining a court interdict against them in July 2010 and again in February 2011 (for more information about this see our news page).

Members of Dzomo la Mupo gather outside the sealed-off Phiphidi Falls before marching on the gate to protest

The committee was launched at a general meeting in February 2009, and 12 official principals (The 12 Principles) were adopted. Since then the group has served as an instrument, enabling members of several Venda clans to have a strong unified voice that represents all communities. Through Dzomo la Mupo makhadzis have been empowered to speak out about their concerns and have had the courage to confront their fears for the future.

The main activities of Dzomo la Mupo include; teaching the people of Venda about the facts and values of sacred sites and Mupo, and ensuring that children are included. The committee also encourages the planting of millet for use in the rituals, and assists custodian clans to map and document their sacred sites.

Anyone can become a member of Dzomo la Mupo, it does not discriminate. All members of Dzomo la Mupo, are only required to adhere to The 12 Principles that will ensure sacred sites are protected and the environment is preserved for our grandchildren and into the future. There is no fee to join, and all who support the ideals and principles of the committee are welcome. To join please contact the office and organise to sign the Dzomo la Mupo pledge.

 

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