This sacred pond is guarded by the Mnisi tribe. They believe that it is the place where the spirits of their dead ancestors reside.
The Mnisi select their chief in a bizarre manner. After the chief dies, anyone wanting to replace him must immerse himself the pool carrying a flaming torch, which must stay alight.
Regardless of drought or heavy rains, the level of the pool is reputed to remain constant. The level did not change when a white farmer used the water to irrigate his fields.
Anyone who disrespects the sanctity of the pool will incur the wrath of the spirits in the form of thunder, lightning and hailstorms, which will damage his property and crops. He will also be publicly embarrassed as someone with evil intentions or greed. One can tell if the spirits are aroused by the water of the pond becoming cloudy or rippled, despite there being no wind.
When I took this photograph, a member of the Natural History Society of Swaziland walking group warned me that I was playing with fire. Perhaps the fire wouldn’t be extinguished by the sacred pool.