travel

Sept. 6, 2022

BY MAPAMELA KHANYELA, METRO TRAVEL

4 min read

Life at Kome Caves

Life at Kome Caves

Houses nestled under the Kome Caves

Story highlights

  • Some tourists want to eat and experience how residents survive under the caves.
  • Most of the people who come here to visit are students and their teachers, some organized trips and individual travelers.

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Kome caves depicts much about descendants of Teleka Kome, Thetso Kome, Makhokolo Kome, and Moteletsa Kome as well Ntefane Ntefane, founding members of this famous village.

‘Mamotonisi Ntefane, resident at Komes’ Caves in Berea district, knows all too well, the life at Kome Caves, a tourist’s attraction in Malimong.

The caves are among the main tourists’ attractions in Lesotho. Teleka Kome was the first to arrive and establish a home here in 1824, the same year King Moshoeshoe I arrived at Thaba Bosiu. Kome caves are well-known for their rich history, particularly as a safer place during the hard times of Lifaqane wars.

Mrs. ‘Mamotonosi Ntefane, a mother of three, has stayed at these caves for 47 years. For almost five decades, she has shared stories of her life with visitors from Lesotho, South Africa, Europe and other parts of the world. Mrs. Ntefane is happy to have inherited a house belonging to her mother-in-law ‘Mathabo Ntefane and is ready to stay in these caves for the rest of her life.

In this wide-ranging interview with Mapamela Khanyela for Metro Travel, the 67-year-old Mrs. Ntefane tells the story of how she arrived at this village and how educating tourists is helping her to address her daily basic needs.

Metro Travel (MT):  You are 67 years old and living at Kome Caves, please tell me how you arrived in these caves?

‘Mamotonosi Ntefane:  To start with, I used to visit these caves as a student from Ha Seetsana Primary School with my schoolmates and would be welcomed by friendly grandmothers who told us stories of these caves. Our school also used to buy some wood around this place, and we would take advantage and visit residents here. I left school when I was in standard four because my parents would not afford my school fees. I was in love with Teleka Ntefane, a descendent of people who arrived here in 1824. He was my schoolmate. We married on the 4th April 1975, a day I arrived at this village. Since that day, I have never looked back. I am happy to stay here and looking forward to handover this inheritance to our next generation.

MT: You have been here for 47 years, living with descendants of Teleka Kome, how has been your journey to this far?

Ntefane: The journey has been very interesting. We live here peacefully. We help each other when there is a need. We share our different stories with scores of tourists coming here for different purposes as well as students. We sometimes welcome tourists who ask to spend some days with us. They want to eat and experience how we survive under these caves. As our daily routine, we would collect fire-wood and prepare for the evening. In the evening, we sit around the fire, tell them about our forefathers who came here first. We tell them that Kome was a traditional doctor who would use traditional medicines to disperse snakes that were a threat to his livestock. In 2021, we had an American tourist who spent a night with us, she was part of the tourists who came for annual Menkhoaneng-to-Thaba Bosiu Walk. There are home stays in some villages around here, but it seems some tourists prefer to experience a life inside these caves.  Basotho Hikers are among our main visitors these days.

MT: You mentioned that you welcome local and international tourists time and again and they come for different purposes, what gives you strength to welcome tourists?

Life at Kome Caves

Mrs 'Mamotonosi Ntefane sitting on the front of a house she inherited from her mother in law

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Life at Kome Caves

Kome Caves houses seen under the floodlight at night

Ntefane: Tourists means good news to us. When they arrive at the information center, they pay entrance fee and we get a certain percentage per month. The money is helping us to carry on with our daily needs. We are not employed by Kome Community Enterprise, but our inheritance is attracting tourists to this place, therefore we benefit from their visits. However, corona virus affected us negatively in the past two years. But gradually, people have started visiting us and other attractions in the country, this is encouraging.

MT: When do you welcome more tourists?

Ntefane: From January to June. Most of the people who come here are students and their teachers and from July to the end of a year we see organized trips and individual travelers coming here. There are tour operators that come here with organized trips, they change our lives. Summer is almost around the corner, we expect more tourists, both local and international tourists.

MT: Your mother-in-law handed over to you the family history, you also inherited the house, at your age, are you intending to handover to your children or grandchildren this beautiful history?

Ntefane: I am yet to have a daughter in law because my son is not yet married, but I will be very glad to have a family member staying here as age is catching up with me, but for now I can still carry on and make sure tourists get what they pay for. I value our history and would be happy to share it with the next generation to come.

MT: The houses still look beautiful; how do you keep these houses well decorated?

Ntefane: The houses cannot be affected by rain or anything harmful. We decorate them but not always because the rains do not affect this place. I feel privileged to have inherited this beautiful place and it is our responsibility to make sure that tourists find this place as beautiful as it was before us.

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