Xhosa Culture – Mngazana, South Africa

I am really surprised that the 4 day transkei tour came through. I really wanted to do the one day tour last week but didn’t get to and was really quite upset about it. Now I see that sometimes I don`t get what I want because something even better is coming for me. So even without the minimum number of people, Sean told me to pack my bags because they were going to run it anyway.

We woke early to grab some breakfast while enjoying the spectacular sunrise before packing into the landrover. We were a small group of 5 which made it possible to all sit in the front quite comfortably. Besides Mike and Ayanda, our guides, we joked about it being a bit of a girls trip with only myself, Judith and Cirrie. We rambled along the N2 (the main road along the south coast) making our first stop at the Kei River Canyon. Here we learned about some of the historical background while placing our chosen rock on top of the pile significating the beginning of our journey.

As I carefully padded my way across the old railway bridge, I was very aware of the large gaping holes that were waiting for me if I lost my balance. It`s a long long way down into the river canyon and I wasn`t too interested in cordless bungee jumping today. We listened intently as Mike told us the harrowing tale of the Xhosa legend Isivivane who prophesied a new life for the tribes if they would forsake all their material riches. They burned their crops and slaughtered their livestock only to be disappointed by years of strife and struggles. They think that the young prophet was wrong but I wonder.

We passed by the birthplace of Nelson Mandela and I noticed that the cars and people were getting more scarce. We 4×4 along the banks of the Mngazana River waving at the curious bright eyes of Xhosa children as they ran after our large bulky vehicle.

After a walk along the rocky coast, we ate lunch next to the beach where many cows were sunbathing. Cows on the beach? Yup. On this trip, I found that cows keep to the strangest places.

Some accidentally locked the keys in the truck. Opps! After maneuvering one of the children through the back of the landrover, we got the keys out of the locked vehicle and were on our way.

We met our host Xhosa family then walked down to the local shebeen (drinking hole) to enjoy a beer with the locals. Just as we arrived the rain started pouring down and I sighed as I looked down at my slippers (protecting my broken toe) wondering just how muddy they would get. It was all we could do to keep our balance as we tried to navigate through the dark puddley roads back to our hut.

After a traditional Khosa dinner of pap (cornmeal), potato with a curry spice, and a tomatoey type sauce we all settled in to share stories. The only light I could see was the small red flashing light on the electricity box which seemed eerily out of place out here in the middle of nowhere. I cuddled into my sleeping bag as I listened to the rain hammering down outside of our small round but dry ronderavalle.

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