The Legend of Cannibal Cavern

How did The Cavern get its name? This is an extract from Incwadi Yami (1887) by J.W. Matthews M.D. in which the adventurous doctor describes finding evidence of cannibals in the massive cave above the hotel.

“Next day, with native police and horses which our host had kindly provided, off we started before the sun was hot to visit the Cannibal caves of Usidanane. I recollect, even now, what a merry party we were that morning and how we made the mountains ring with our joyous shouts and mirth. Our guides, infected with our exuberant spirits, chanted a war song as they marched jauntily along in single file leading the way, while we riding behind followed by a path which led over broken ridges up the steep, water worn side of a rugged mountain.

cannibal cavern

After climbing some frightful ledges on its face, we suddenly found ourselves in front of the entrance to the Cannibal caves of the once so much talked of Usidanane. This man, now a petty chief, used some sixty years ago to live in these caves with his father and other natives, who, as well as himself, were driven by starvation to become cannibals when the country was overrun by the impis and invading legions of the Zulu king, Chaka.

Usidanane is still living, at an advanced age, in charge of a few descendants of these cannibals, who came forth from the shelter they had sought, and occupied the ground in the immediate vicinity, and are now called by the tribal name of Amazizi”.

And so the legend of Cannibal Cave was born and a piece of history went on to become the name of the hotel.

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