I left Richmond, not a moment too soon, it appears, as there has been some political trouble there. Briefly, a member of the ANC-controlled town council, Mr Nkabinde, who were voted in at the last election, was alleged to be a police informer. The ANC expelled him - without, I think, a trial, or with reference to ANC membership rules. Mr Nkabinde resigned, and 9 fellow members of the council resigned in sympathy. Of the two council members left, one was gunned down outside his home the following week, for obvious reasons ..
I stayed a night in the rural town of Kranskop - a timber town on the edge of Zululand. I took a 100Km dirt road across to Babanango - through the heart of Zululand. I stopped at a new tribal center, which was next to a new telecommunications tower. From some Telkom guys who were passing, I learned that they have an ambitious plan for rural telephones, using point-to-point digital microwave. It has a range of about 15Km between relay stations running at 2.4Ghz, and a range of 9Km for the subscriber stations running at 1.6Ghz, which talk to an omnidirectional antenna on the relay tower. Power is solar panels, cost of a subscriber station is about R3,000.
I then arrived in Zululand, and am staying at Eshowe, the oldest city here, though not the capital. I then went on another “community tourism” trip, staying in a traditional Zulu hut overnight. Our host was Walter, a 63 year old Zulu man, and his family, who does these trips in conjunction with the backpacker lodge I am staying in. Walter has three wives, scattered around, and 21 children. He is a Lutheran, as are many Zulus around here. Another popular religion here are the Zionists, who have brought Christianity to the people, using their traditions - with drums, incense, and traditional singing styles. Walter also has a Shabeen - the semi-legal township pubs. His was excellent - good music (car battery powered stereo) and fun local people - all, of course, looking for jobs.
To be continued ..