Zululand is the political stronghold of the Inkatha Freedom Party, and Buthelezi, its leader. He is related to the King of Zululand, who owns/administers most of the land, and who is a direct descendent of Shaka Zulu, the (quite recent) founder of the Zulu nation.
Zululand is a place of rolling hills, with traditional Zulu Kraals dotted all over it. Ulundi is the capital, but is a small place. I am staying in Eshowe, the oldest city here, but Eshowe is smaller than Richards bay, a large seaport that ships more tonnage than Durban, primarily coal, timber (wattle and Gum) and sugar (which is grown everywhere). There is also a large, new, aluminium smelting plant there.
Much of the land, however, belongs to the King, who has his own administrative heirarchy through traditional chiefs and their Ndunas, the headman. I met someone who had a contract with Eskom, the electricity board in South Africa, for mapping of rural schools and clinics, as a part of an aggresive campaign of electrification. We travelled around Zululand in a fourwheel drive truck, navigating by means of large ariel photos of the country, visiting the most remote schools, and mapping them by means of the latest GPS (global positioning system) gear. He drove, I ran the GPS.
Many of the schools, predictably, had no electricity. More of them, but still very few, had telephones. There were usually about 30 to 40 per class.
The owner of the hotel is Graham Chennells, born in Eshowe, who has made and lost fortunes over the years here. He was mayor of the town for a couple of years, and is very active in the Rotary club here. He is also a lot of fun .. and is one of the reasons I have stayed here for a couple of weeks. He ran a Zulu cultural festival here last weekend, which consisted of modern instruments, mainly keyboards, guitar and drumset, with traditional Zulu dancing, which was superb, especially the boys. Shaka Zulu used dance to train his troops, and the dances are exhausting even to watch, let alone perform.
We had a “Zulu feast”, and then some drama - of the variety of boy-meets-girl, father disapproves. Hilarious. Most of the performers were in mid-teens, and were thoroughly enjoying themselves.
I went to see Ladysmith Black Mambazo live in Ulundi, where I was the only white audience member. They also do the Zulu dancing thing, and I was even invited up onstage to dance with them. Made my day ..
Last night we went of a Shabeen trip in town. It is just someones house, where they sell beer, and the number of available young women suggested other trades as well. It is amazing that the whole place went from 0 to 100 miles an hour in about 60 seconds flat after we arrived. Great music, good dancing, wild times. I like Zululand.