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January 20, 2015

Kay Mzizi – traditional healer at Ohlange

Interview with Mr Kay Mzizi on the 03 of September 2014 at eNanda, Ohlange. Interviewer: Zandile Mazibuko

 

I hear that you are called ‘umlaphi’ a traditional healer, how does a person go about in wanting to be like you. The training and learning process and how do you know you have the calling?

How did I learn?

Yes, whether you learn or not?

Ok number one; you need to know the different plants that grow in the forests. Number two, I will give you may example according to me, I am originally from Eastern Cape when I was still in school in 1979, you take different plants and put them together , call a girl by means of blowing the plants in the air saying you need them here. Secondly someone comes and tells you this is their problem, then you put this and that plant together and you solve the problem. Going past that you come to the place of having a gift that is given by the ancestors. Maybe you’re a prayer or a sangoma, you need to tell people seeking your help the truth and the person must let you know that you’re saying the truth and if not they also need to let you know.

Are you satisfied?

Yes baba

Thank you girl

Can I please ask, how do you deal with a situation whereby you cannot seem to resolve the person’s situation because African people go and try to interpret things at a traditionalist, what do you say to them if you cannot seem to find a solution?

Thank you, this is what happens, you come to me and ask for my help, you therefore explain to me what is going on and if I see that I do not see clearly to your matter, I throw my bones and talk to my ancestors to show me what is this person suffering from and that so this and that plant will be what they need to help them.

Do you get me?

Yes I do

For example another person comes and says I am sick because of this and that, I throw my bones to see if there is anything else and my ancestors tell me you do not need anything but only to prepare traditional Zulu beer.

That’s it?

That is it, maybe the cause of this is the dispute of the person in need’s ancestors and what they need is meat and traditional Zulu beer but not a big ceremony of slaughtering a cow or goat because this may cause a conflict to the ancestors because some of them were involved in a car accident and that is how they past on, now blood on blood is not acceptable.

Do you hear me?

Yes I do

Same as when people who die on car accidents, they are not brought back home because their blood will come and finish the whole family. Also when buying a car, you do not slaughter a goat because that blood will cause bad luck on the car for you, like an accident.

Who does not like a car?

Nobody because I also like it but not only that I also need it

All you need to do is thank the ancestors by setting alight “impepho”, do not say thank you but say can I have a better car, it is also about finding a job, everyone needs to have a job and you want to get paid well when you have that job so do not say thank you to the ancestors but say can they provide you with a better one because they will assume that you are happy and satisfied so they’re help is not needed anymore, you’ve had enough.

You can ask any question you like

Ok

Even sangoma’s come to me and ask for my assistance, talking about that they are closed. Same as liquor shop owners who say that they are closed down and I tell them that it is because someone bewitched your business by buying at your shop with a bottle which has been put pig fat oil or horse oil and gave it to you, you there after put it with the other bottles and then the spell works in closing your means of production. This is all due to the fact that people do unforeseen things that are wrong just because of jealousy or greed. People are not the same, they have different problems and I can do this or anyone else out of knowledge and experience.

One minute!

Ok go ahead, ask my girl

What is the difference between all of you, sangoma’s, inyanga and umlaphi because I can see that some of the things you use are the same as sangoma’s use too? What are your different job titles?

Ok firstly, I use water and plants (muthi) and when necessary bones too. I go to the Isipingo Sea or another waterfall, these other practitioners do not use water in most cases, and some cannot even go to the forest because they cannot interact with the snakes there because it is their totems. The reason why they are called differently is because of their different callings, their totems in which they work with and the training and practice process that is different, to prove this for example there is a boy “Mandla” who came to me with a problem of not finding a job, I went and dipped him in the dam that I normally got to at four in the morning and he found a job within days and he did not even believe in these things. Whereas the sangoma is the one who goes to the sea and dip themselves not the person who seeks help, they send people to do certain things.

If you’re the one who is sick, how do you help yourself because normally people such as yourself do not help themselves?

Thank you, there is this springbok skin that I have from my training, I take it and I lay on a traditional mate called “ucansi” and take the springbok skin and make it my blanket on the floor at 00:00pm at night I then dream and the ancestors show me which and which plant I mix and use it to be healed. At home a child broke their arm and I had to put such and such of medicine on the wound and they were ok after the next few days, I tell you we don’t normally go to hospitals.

What about your own children or close family, do you help them or do they seek help from someone else?

I help them, whatever the sickness but I am the one who helps them because in most cases I know things before hand for example when a member of the family is pregnant, I know the gender of the child, the day it will be born and they do not go to hospitals. If there is any problems towards the pregnancy then it needs to be fixed maybe she is pregnant and the boyfriend has another girlfriend that they are fighting, maybe she has bewitched her underwear now so I fix that. All my children get married and they deliver at home because there are certain mixtures I make them drink before giving birth. As for someone else I make them go to the hospital quickly before the child is born here.

Are you satisfied?

Yes I am thank you

You can ask another question, I like children like you who want to learn by asking, you see each and every problem of a person showing this and that sign means this and that.

I am learning so much today

Can you interpret dreams and how do you go about it?

Yes I can and good

I’ve been having the same dream in one night and this dream involves meat and a thief and people who are telling me this are people that I know, warning me about this person? What does it mean?

Ok let me tell you, there are people who have small creatures that work for them as I have said that I started this back in 1979. We use to herd cattle cows, goats as small boys and these creatures usually told us what medicine to use because they relate to children because of their innocence, they use to bring us food like maas to eat and when we got older they left us, so sometimes people use these creatures to do bad things to others out of jealousy. There are these creatures in the townships whereby a person practicing witchcraft sleeps with a monkey and they produce this creature for them to be able to commit such acts. Finally there is this animal that looks like a rat and it is sent to steal your underwear, it pokes a hole on it and takes that piece to the sender, they therefore mix that piece with money and medicine and you find yourself not having money and not even getting married because of this. There is another animal which looks like a cat but it has three legs most people who practice witchcraft have that animal and so they also send it to do ugly things. You see my girl this is all created by the eye in which it sees a person as a threat and it becomes jealous so people are like that in life.

Do you have a specific kind of group of patients that you help for example a white person comes and seeks for your help, do you help them?

Yes very well, I help all kind of races, it does not matter who it is or what their race is, its all about the situation that they are coming with. I have helped so many people from different races, Indians and White people for example one other time an Indian lady came to me asking how can she get rid of the huge pimples on her face and can I tell her who did this to her. I told her that I cannot tell her who it is but what I can do is get rid of the pimple and I did so because I could see that who did this (it was a black lady) to her it was because at work she treats other staff members badly and she returned to come and thank me. This is the same as when someone wants to be with you or do the same as the Indian lady all they do is have a black string put horse oil on it and other medicines, they call your name in the air and when they bury the string and you cross over it, automatically you have the pimples all over your face due to what that person has done.

Do you get me?

Yes I do

Good

I see pictures around here in your office and it shows that you work with hospital nurses; do you work with them and other people?

Ok listen, yes I do work with them, you see I work also on different projects with the community people. I take care of children from an early age who are poverty stricken at home and they do a course on health care after they finish matric and because I have certificates for people who can do home base care practical’s with, I take them and they finish and I send them to big hospitals to work there for a living. This stops a child from giving herself to men just to make ends meet at home for her. Because these children are hungry and I run a soup kitchen for them where they get porridge for breakfast early in the morning and they eat lunch and some even carry the food home so I help them to not go hungry, be able to focus at school and even if they do not have electricity back home I take it out of my own pocket for them to be able to study, this eliminates poverty and starvation. As for the boys I put them in my soccer team for them to not do drugs and steal to survive because for them to provide this habit they could smash your car’s wind-screen and take the car’s radio, now all these costs just for a radio in which he will sell for R20 and when you ask them they say it is because I was hungry. So once they are well trained, big teams like Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates want them and they go and play for those teams.

I also give out food parcels for homeless children and grown-ups during the December month because some children do not have parents and they need that experience of having a parent because umuntu ngumutu ngabantu. Some people come with cases that they have lost their wives and they want them back home and so I help them, I help even people who do not have money.

Wouldn’t someone see what you are doing as wrong?

No it’s something we have always done in our culture it’s just that people have been turned to be corrupt and some lie and use these women and leave them. What is important is that mother’s and women in general are the peace-makers in homes and men are not well respected when there is no woman in his life, homes are stable because of women and if a woman is not happy at home she talks about it unlike men. Most cases I deal with has to do with these things of infidelity in marriages, stepmothers and they children, men and their drinking habits but I would say that men who drink tend to speak the truth unlike those who do not they have many secrets.

I have hardship with people and their relationships

Ok

So no truth no solutions! Are you satisfied?

Yes I’m satisfied

For the record can you please repeat your full name and surname?

Ok, I’m Kay Mzizi originally from Eastern Cape, Phonqho I came in 1985 to Durban and worked at the harbor, offloading goods.

Thank you sir

No thank you.

 

 

 

November 19, 2014

Khayelihle Mnqayi – dance teacher in Inanda

ZULU CHILDREN THAT DANCE INGOMASummary of interview with KHAYELIHLE MNQAYI, a dance teacher in Inanda

KHAYELIHLE MNQAYI, WAS BORN AT KWAMAPHUMULO, HE DID HIS PRIMARY LEVEL AT MBITANE PRIMARY SCHOOL, THEN HE WENT TO LINCOPHO, FROM THERE HE WENT TO OHLANGE INSTITUTE WHERE HE COMPLETED HIS HIGH SCHOOL, KNOWN AS MATRIC.

HE IS A DANCE TEACHER AT HIS AREA KNOWN AS INANDA.HE STATES THAT THE DANCE THEY DO IS NOT CALL A DANCE BUT THEY CALL IT “INGOMA”, HE SAID THAT THERE IS INGOMA FOR LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, IT VARIES IN THREE CATEGORIES, ONE KNOWN AS ISICHUNU WHICH IS FAST, THEN USHAMENI WHICH IS NOT FAST AS THE OTHERS, BUT AT ALL IT IS KNOWN AS INGOMA IN THE ZULU WAY.

HE STARTED LEARNING IT A KWAMAPHUMULO FROM HIS PRIMARY LEVEL.HE JUST LEARNT BY WATCHING THOSE WHO WERE OLDER THAN HIM DOING IT, BY THAT TIME HE WAS DOING GRADE 5. SO HE LOOKED AT THE DANCE THEN LATER HE KNEW HOW TO MOVE HIS FOOT AND CLAP THOSE HANDS. EVEN DURING THE TIME WHEN HE WENT TO HIGH, HE CONTINUED TO DANCE. EVEN WHEN HE MOVED HERE TO DURBAN, HE CONTINUED UNTIL HE FORMED HIS OWN DANCE GROUPS AT INANDA.

AT INANDA WHERE HE RESIDES HE IS HAVING A GROUP CALLED AMAQWANE, WHICH CONSISTS OF LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THEN THERE IS UMKHONTO FOR LADIES AND GENTLEMEN. KHAYELIHLE MENTIONED THAT NOBODY TAUGHT HIM, JUST LEARNT IT BY WATCHING THE ELDERS DANCING IT WHEN THERE WERE EVENTS IN HIS AREA. WHEN HE STARTED HIS PRIMARY LEVEL, HIS UNCLES USED TO HAVE THEIR OWN GROUPS KNOWN AS LIONS, SO KHAYELIHLE MENTIONED THE FACT THAT INGOMA CAN BE DONE ANYTIME, EVEN WHEN YOU WALKING WITH FRIENDS, YOU CAN DO INGOMA.

Interview and English summary: Tebenguni Nxumalo, 6 October 2014, Inanda

 

February 4, 2014

Plants along the Woza eNanda Walking Trail

There are still many green spaces in Inanda and the Woza eNanda Walking Trail often runs along the river or through densely vegetated slopes along small footpaths. A lot of interesting plants can be encountered here. Some are used for medicinal purposes or linked with cultural beliefs. But there are also a lot of invasive alien plants that must be carefully controlled or should be eradicated.

Our horticulturalist, Lindelani Zuke, provides some explanations, but please contribute your own knowledge through the comment feature below or e-mail us at enandaonline@gmail.com. Tell us, what the Zulu name of the different plants is and what the community uses these plants for. You can also mail us your own pictures of plants and tree.

You can also get information about social and cultural points of interest along the Woza eNanda Walking trail and follow our updates on the further development.

INDIGENOUS TREES AND SHRUBS

Wild Plum

Scientific name: Harpephyllum caffrum
Zulu name: Umganu

Umganu is associated with attracting women for marriage. A man can prepare a love potion from the leaves of the tree and apply that to the skin of his face.

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Misty plume bush

Scientific name: Tetradenia riparia
Zulu name: Iboza

Locals use this shrub for making flu medicine. Check out more about this plant on the Ulwazi blog.

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Giant leaf fig

Scientific name: Ficus lutea
Zulu name: Umkhiwane

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Wild banana

Scientific name: Strelitzia Nicolai

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Paperbark thorn

Scientific name: Acacia sieberianaCommon: Paperbark thorn
Zulu name: Umkhamba

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Ipomea

Scientific name: Ipomea cairica
Zulu name: Umaholwana

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Kei apple

Scientific name: Dovyalis caffra

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FRUIT TREES and VEGETABLES

 Mango tree
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Peach tree

Scientific name: Prunus persica
Zulu name: Umpentshisi

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Amadumbe

Scientific name: Colocasia esculenta

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ALIEN AND ALIEN INVASIVE PLANTS

Sadly, a lot of alien vegetation, much of it invasive, some even dangerous to humans and animals grows in Inanda, too. Alien plants consume scarce water resources, limit biodiversity and invade land that could be put to better use for the community.

In terms of the Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act (CARA 1983), alien plants are classified in three categories:

Category 1: Highly invasive, should be eradicated and planting is prohibited
Category 2: Alien, but useful. Can be planted, but only with permit
Category 3: Can be kept, but must not be propagated

 

Parthenium weed

Scientific name: Parthenium hysterophorus
Zulu name: Umbulalazwe

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Mexican sunflower

Scientific name: Tithonia diversifolia

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Peanut butter cassia

Scientific name:  Senna didymobotrya

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Spanish Reed

  Scientific name: Arundo donax

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Napier Fodder or Elephant Grass

 Scientific name: Pennisetum purpureum

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Syringa

Scientific name: Melia azedarach
Zulu name: Umsilinga

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Yellow Oleander

Scientific name: Thevetia peruviana

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Indian Shot

Scientific name: Canna Indica

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Singapore daisy

Scientific name: Sphagneticola trilobata

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Butterfly orchid tree 

Scientific name: Bauhinia purpurea

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Jambolan

Scientific name: Syzygium cumini
Zulu name: Umdoni wesilungu

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Brazilian pepper tree

Scientific name: Schinus terebinthifolius

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Large Cocklebur

Scientific name : Xanthium strumarium

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Balloon vine

Scientific name: Cardiospermum grandiflorum

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Triffid weed

Scientific name: Chromolaena odorata
Zulu name: Usandanezwe

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Castor oil plant

Scientific name: Ricinus communis

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Agaratum

Scientific name: Ageratum conyzoides

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Bugweed

Scientific name: Solanum mauritianum
Zulu name: Umbhangabhanga

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Nandi flame

Scientific name: Spathodea campanulata

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Goosefoot

Scientific name: Syngonium podophyllum

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Barbados gooseberry

Scientific name: Pereskia aculeata

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Four-o’ clock

Scientific name: Mirabilis jalapa

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Compiled by Sabine Marschall; expertise supplied by Lindelani Zuke (horticulturalist, Durban Green Corridor) 31/1/14

This post will soon be available in ZULU

January 22, 2014

Woza eNanda Walking Trail – update 3

After the Festive Season break, the planning meetings for the Woza eNanda Walking Trail resumed on 20/1/14 at the INK ABM Offices in KwaMashu.

Gary Cullen from Durban Green Corridor welcomed everyone and briefly summarized the purpose of the initiate and the status quo of the planning.  While the walking trail directly links with the Woza eNanda Heritage Route, the key idea is to provide more options for visitors to interact with the community and the latter to benefit economically from such visits. Mostly the walking trail is meant to attract tourists, local visitors, and especially young people, who are not in a group or with a tour operator, but who would like to have a township experience, participate in social events (e.g. involving music, soccer, taverns) or simply walk ‘off the beaten track’.

The main focus of this meeting was the clean-up operations and addressing environmental problems. Mostly this refers to litter removal and alien invasive clearing, but also includes attending to water leakages, sewage and effluence problems and rehabilitation. It was agreed that these issues should be tackled on a ward basis, notably wards 54, 55 and 57. The respective ward councillors will be informed and a presentation will be arranged at the INK Councillors Forum.  Lindelani Zuke, who is the newly appointed horticulturalist at Durban Green Corridor, will be the coordinator for the environmental team. The first priority is to take GPS readings and map problem areas more precisely.

The management of the waste collection skips will be taken up with DSW, but it is also important to engage with the local co-ops in the area to ensure that residents are indeed placing their rubbish into the skips, rather than piling it up around it. The community must play a key role in deciding how to take the clean-up forward. The ward councillors might call a community meeting to this effect. DSW can supply bags, gloves, a few tools and will arrange a date of collection.  These efforts can extend or link in with existing programmes such as ‘Adopt a Spot’, etc.

Sihlanzimvelo is currently involved in litter removal, alien clearing and rehabilitation along the streams, but only for 3 metres on each side. Areas where infestation extends much further must be identified and attended to independently.  Experience shows that once an area has been cleared, people immediately start planting vegetables there. Consultation with the community must occur; while the project can facilitate community gardening, this must occur in a planned and organized manner.

The area around the sports field (ward 55 only) was selected as a key focal point of intervention, from where the cleaning effort will radiate out. This area has a lot of potential, as it engages many residents through play and sports facilities; the pond can be turned into an attractive wetland and recreational resource. This cleaned up area can be a showcase for the entire project and an information board could be set up there.

Angela Baker (not present at this meeting) is working on a project with City Architects in preparation for the international Architecture conference in August. It is called ‘Pocket parks’ and involves art installations and other interventions in selected areas. One of these areas is near the Gandhi Settlement and this initiative, while proceeding independently, should be coordinated with the walking trail project, especially the development of a shorter loop trail around the Gandhi Settlement.

While  Lindelani’s team focuses on the clean-up, the second team, coordinated by Sabine, carries on with content development. Both work-streams must link with the schools and engage with teachers to involve them in the clean-up and help design the trail to suit their educational needs.

The following persons were present at the meeting: Gary Cullen – DGC, Alina Fleczok-DGC, Mandla Nxumalo-DurbanTourism, Sanele Mvuyane-DGC, Sandile Maphumulo-INK-ABM, Loyiso Ntsalaze –DGC, Sabine Marschall-UKZN, Bart Fokkens-DGC, Wiseman Mhlongo –DGC, Lindelani Zuke –DGC, Nolwandle Zulu –DSW, Siphiwe Cele –INK-ABM, Thuyi Dludla –DSW, Zandile Ngcobo-DGC, Mpume Gumede-CSCM, Christi Cupido –BMK Consultants, Snqobile Nkabinde –BMK Consultants

Compiled by Sabine Marschall 21/1/14

January 17, 2014

Woza eNanda Walking Trail – cultural & social points of interest

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Loyiso, Sanele & Mlu

What can one see and experience along the eNanda Walking Trail?

Below are some explanations and opinions provided by Mlu Mthembu, Loyiso Ntsalaze and Sanele Mvuyane from Inanda, but please contribute your own knowledge by leaving a comment or e-mailing us at enandaonline@gmail.com.

Follow these links for more information about plants along the trail or small shops and informal businesses.  For more information about the Woza eNanda Walking Trail trail initiative, check out our regular updates.

 

Dube family home

Dube family home

Dube family home

John Dube built this home, near the Ohlange Institute, in 1921. It is still occupied today by his only surviving daughter, Lulu Dube.

Follow this link for an interview with Lulu Dube.

 

 

 

 

Homes

Township homes may all look much alike at first sight, but are in fact displaying a great variety of building styles, shapes and materials. They reflect the aspirations and prosperity of the homeowners, but also cultural beliefs. For instance, a round hut on the premises indicates that a traditionalist (non-Christian) lives here; white border stones are used by Shembe believers. Tires on roof tops are believed to protect the home from lightning strikes and people sometimes store other items of top of the roof for protection from thieves. Even the most modest shack may be equipped with a satellite dish.

Listen here for more:

Stones and tires on the roof

Satellite dishes

Round huts

RDP houses

Horns on the wall

Upgrading a home

Fruit and vegetables

People in eNanda grow vegetable in every available spot of land around their home. Most common crops are meali (corn), pumpkin, beans, sweet potato, madumbi, etc. Mealis are especially important as a staple diet. Fruit trees – mango, avocado, bananas, pawpaw, and grapefruit are especially common in the vicinity of the Shembe settlement.

About mealies 

Goats and chicken

Goats and chicken are roaming around everywhere, because they are not only a source of meat, but important for ritual purposes. Goats represent the link with the ancestors and are slaughtered when ceremonies are performed. Among the chicken, only the black and white chicken are sacrificial animals, each for a different purpose. The goat’s horns are displayed above the door or on a pole around the homestead after the ceremony and pieces of skin are worn on people’s wrist.

Chickens

Black and white chickens

 

Children’s games

Children in eNanda have few toys, but they can be seen having fun with their own kind of games. Amagenda is a game played with small stones; udonkey is played with tennis balls. Then there is street soccer with very small goals and special rules;  uqithi involves climbing up into a tree and vumvum is a toy made out of string and a pierced flattened bottle-top.

Children’s games

Street soccer

 

Street names and house numbers

Street names may be taken for granted in the city, but were only introduced in some parts along the trail as late as last year. Previously, homes were simply numbered and now, the old and the new numbering system coexist. Some people proudly decorate the new street number on the wall of their home.

 

Some interesting snippets

IMG_8151Imbizweni – place of judgement: This old fig tree at the Gandhi Settlement was used as a meeting place for community elders to consult and pass judgement.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_8006 Shoes hanging from the overhead lines once referred to drugs being sold around here, remember Loyiso, Mlu and  Sanele, but this meaning has changed today …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_8077Piles of wood stored next to a house indicate that the family is preparing for a ritual.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_8052 Wrecks or old cars are found at various homesteads.  They might be keepsakes in memory of their owner …

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_8119 Preparing skins for clothing and ritual purposes is a highly developed skill…

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_8175 At this inconspicuous homestead, not far from the Gandhi Settlement, traditional Infene dance performances take place at the weekend at the end of each month.

 

 

 

 

 

Dead trees could be an indication of witchcraft, as a neighbour may have sent lighting.

House music is very popular and may be heard coming out of various homes.

 

 

There are many NGOs in the area and some of them could be potentially be visited with prior arrangements. More information about them will follow shortly.

 

 

 

This is a GPS capture of the routes we took from Ohlange to Phoenix and back, mapped onto Google Earth.

track 1

 

 

 

 

Compiled by Sabine Marschall 17/1/14

November 6, 2013

Making Zulu shields – Thembinkosi Nelson Mthembu

Mr Thembinkosi Nelson Mthembu in Inanda (Newtown A) makes Zulu shields and other objects from animal skin. He was interviewed by Nkanyiso Dlamini on 16 October 2013.

Brief summary by Nkanyiso Dlamini. Find th full transcript on the Zulu page.

The first question is about one of the most widely recognizable objects or artifact that can be easily identified with the Zulu tradition which is a Shield (commonly known as ihawu in isiZulu language). Mr. Mthembu is asked to explain the process behind creating a shield which was originally made for protection for war men in historical Zulu nation. He firstly points out the fact that the creation of all Zulu artifacts has not changed much since back in the days, for example to create a shield he still needs fresh animal skin that is recently just been taken off a particular animal in this situation a cow’s skin, and this has been the tradition from his great grandparents back in times of King Shaka Zulu. The process involves, firstly thoroughly washing the cow’s skin with bar soap, and a lot of water, and then they straighten the skin and leave out in the sun to dry out for a few days

As the interview progresses Mr. Mthembu is asked whether the process of creating a big shield is the same for smaller version of shields, and he states that the process is the same for all sizes. The sizes where always different even in historical times just like today, the difference lies in that back in those days the larger harder ones where the ones used by men who were preparing for war. Now smaller ones created for children and sometimes depending on the situation women when doing their traditional isiZulu dances.

Other animals skin which are used in creating these Zulu attires are all other types of Dear such as Springboks, Kudu’s, and Gemsboks depending on whichever one gets hunted at the time.

More questions are asked to Mr. Mthembu about other objects that are native to the isiZulu culture such as objects that are sandals which are made from old car tyres and copping boards (isithebe). Knob kerrie which it (isagila) Zulu and the spears.

Thembinkosi Nelson Mthembu with Nkanyiso Dlamini

November 1, 2013

Virginity testing – Nombulelo Madondo

Phindile Chiliza and Sihle Mkhamisa conducted an interview with Mrs Nombulelo Madondo, who runs a virginity testing school in Inanda next to eMtshebheni . The interview took place at her home on 6 October 2013. English summary by Phindile Chiliza. Switch to Zulu page for the full interview.

The virginity testing ceremony is very deep and broad more that it seems to be before the eyes of the public. It can be very sensitive, or better yet, it is very fragile when not handled with care, for it surrounds and revolves around the future of the nation. In order for one to open a virgin testing school or organization it has to be some sort of a calling, not merely and inspiration one sees from someone and wishes to do it themselves. Maidens are not only tested, but they are also taught a way of living, respect, their culture and all various skills that each and every individual require, including doing bead work  and are ever motivated.

There is actually no age restriction in virginity testing, thus in most circumstances, testing begins at the age of 8 upward. Hygiene and privacy is the core of virginity testing. The department of Health supports the virgin test. A certificate of merit is only offered or issued in each and every six month. Likewise, a crucial challenge most of virginity testing institutions is non-other than financial support (funding). So most monies come from the stakeholders of the institution’s pocket. This institution was established in 2009 by Mrs Madondo with the reasons that she saw the elders people like the role model in the community doing bad things not taking care of themselves and then she decided to establish the institution izintombi zama siko esintu. She was doing this work of virginity testing in her doors to her children and she realized later that this is selfish she must consult next doors and she called a meeting with people around and she introduced this thing of virginity testing asking for girls and the parents allowed her to test their maidens till today.

The only person who get tested is only young maidens who are still clean and pure and she also stated that if she finds out that the maiden is not pure, she put a white dot in a forehead like others then she write a letter or call her mother telling her that next month must come with her daughter to the virginity testing so that must see herself that her child is not a virgin anymore. This institution was opened because of HIV; the aim was to protect the young maidens from having sex while they are young. And the maidens are proud of being tested every month and they even said that this thing of virginity testing brings dignity to them and they are respected in the community.

This practice need to be preserved for future generations so that they will also live pure and clean life. And even government must do something to help this practice especially financial wise. In order to do this work it must be a calling.