• Ukweshwama - Zulu bull-killing ritual

    Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini has a number of ceremonies conducted at his palace in Nongoma, his only traditionally-built palace. Zulu ceremonies Zwelithini, the sixth zulu king since Shaka and his brothers carved out a piece of South Africa for themselves in the mid-1800’s, is the first one to have to deal with the modern media and concepts like Human Rights. He has a bull-killing ritual, scheduled this year for December 5.
  • Annual Sangoma ceremony in Zululand

    Every year, Sangomas outside Eshowe hold a ceremony to honour their ancestors and strengthen bonds between those of like professions. I have written about Sangomas before - Khekhekhe’s First Fruits ceremony. I was in Zululand again for two weeks, to attend the Umgido Umkhulu - a ceremony co-hosted by Mama Cebekhulu, who is a teacher of a friend of mine Karen. Karen is doing another stage of her Sangoma apprenticeship- as a Twasa (student) of Mama Cebekulu.
  • Habeni Primary

    Habeni Primary school is in Zululand, and has recently acquired a computer lab. Courtesy of Kelsey Wood and Wizzy Digital Courier, it also has Internet. Education In Africa, children walk to school. In South Africa, where I am based, schools and clinics are the only large buildings in the rural areas, and are thus easily spotted with their long roofs. The minimum requirement for a school are rooms, teachers, blackboards, and students.
  • Khekhekhe's First Fruits ceremony

    In 1999 I visited Khekhekhe with Graham, to negotiate a price for National Geographic to do a piece on him. I wrote up that encounter at the time. Khekhekhe held a ceremony on the 23rd of Feb every year - which he called the First Fruits ceremony. It seemed really to be a time for the old Mthethwa Sangomas to get together, Khekhekhe to show his prowess with snakes, and some beasts to die for the table.
  • A Zulu Wedding

    A traditional Zulu wedding is a step back in time, with cellphone cameras in strapped next to leopardskin loincloths. The ancestors are remembered, and the age-old tradion of Lobola is observed. I am spending christmas in Eshowe with my friend Graham Chennells. A friend Karen from Muizenberg is here also, on her own mission to complete her Sangoma training, staying with a local minister from a Zionist church as a Twasa - a trainee, for a month or two.
  • KheKheKe - Sangoma from Zululand

    Folks, I hitched back from Swaziland, and got back in time for a visit to KheKheKe - the Zululand Sangoma near the Tugela river. The National Geographic film crew had showed up, and we set off on Tuesday to his Kraal. the film is called “Snakes of Africa”, and our interest in KheKheKe was his use of snakes during his rituals. He had collected several local Sangomas to be a part of the ceremonies, and after a nice lunch and a beer, and selection of a site for filming, the action began .
  • Sangoma with snakes

    Folks, A British girl came out to Zululand to organise filming of a National Geographic documentary on snakes in Africa. Specifically, she was interested in filming a powerful local Sangoma, KheKheKhe, who incorporates snakes into his ritual. He even puts black and green mambers, and puff adders, heads in his mouth .. We (Graham, myself, and Mitch) took (another) gorgeous trip through rural Zululand in search of this old man, now internationally famous.
  • Computer education in Eshowe, Zululand

    Folks, This week I went to see Andre Basel, who is the computer science teacher at Eshowe High school and the local computer ‘fundi’. We installed Linux on one of his classroom computers, and discussed what his goals were in computer education. He also put me in touch with Eshowe college of education, a teacher training college here, which has a room full of computers, largely under-used, without a network. I asked them over to the High School, but only succeeded in scaring them about Linux.
  • Zululand - South Africa

    Folks, Finally got out of Eshowe - a very nice place, and a rousing sendoff with the third (now official) shebeen trip. We decided that it took only three minutes this time to go from closed shop to a rocking party. This time we took the president of Rotary, who I am sure was very glad nobody was taking pictures as he danced … Up the Natal coast, to Amazulu lodge, another backpackers lodge near St Lucia, a wetlands conservation area on the coast.
  • Schools, zululand

    Folks, Yesterday I went to a ‘turning of the sod’ for a new High school here in Eshowe, which will be paid for by a number of Spanish NGOs (non-government organisation) and managed by the Eshowe Christian Action group. The ceremony was at a nearby primary school, and included some good zulu dancing by the kids. Today there was an opening of the first skills centre / technical college in zululand, which cost R2.
  • Zululand - South Africa

    Folks, 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).
  • Zululand - Kwazulu/Natal

    Folks, 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.