Inside a dimly-lit mud dwelling nestled inside a rocky mountain within the Southern African kingdom of Lesotho, Mamotonosi Ntefane, 67, dusts off an animal pores and skin.
Her family is amongst a handful of households that also inhabit the Kome Caves, a heritage web site within the north of the nation, first occupied about 200 years in the past by native tribes in search of shelter from battle and cannibalism.
“Life is sweet, we develop our personal greens, I can pray anytime I need,” Ntefane, a rosary round her neck, tells the AFP information company.
Greater than 1,800 metres (5,905 ft) above sea degree, some 50km (30 miles) from the capital Maseru, the settlement is surrounded by barren pastures.
Skinny white smoke billows from outdoors the caves as “papa”, a conventional corn porridge, boils in a black forged iron pot over a wooden fireplace.
The cave is split into a number of spherical homes propped towards the basalt rock.
Open passages simply excessive sufficient for an individual to stroll by way of function doorways. Partitions and flooring are product of a mixture of mud and manure that require common maintenance.
Inside are fundamental gadgets together with pots, plastic buckets to retailer water and cowhide for a mattress.
“There’s no electrical energy and no fridge however that is our residence, it’s our historical past,” says 44-year-old Kabelo Kome who’s descended from the primary folks to settle the caves, after whom the place is called.
The caves turned a hideout for members of the Basia and Bataung tribes within the nineteenth century, when battle and a extreme drought ravaged the area.
Christian missionaries travelling the world on the time reported some teams resorted to cannibalism to outlive as livestock and grain reserves dwindled.
It was on this interval that Lesotho emerged as a single entity, because the Sotho, the area’s largest ethnic group, united to battle Zulu raiders and European settlers.
As we speak, many of the nation’s two million folks reside off subsistence farming.
Inhabitants of the Kome Caves develop corn, sorghum and beans and lift chickens and cattle.
The aged obtain a state allowance, whereas others become profitable exhibiting their houses to vacationers.
Some like Mamatsaseng Khutsoane, a 66-year-old former instructor, have moved to a close-by village with larger creature comforts.
“I come right here to eat, or with my grandchildren,” she says.
There may be cell phone protection, however no mounted web or operating water.
“None of that right here,” scoffs Ntefane, as she stands outdoors her residence, gazing on the mountains, whereas cowbells ring within the distance.