After the visit we made our way down to a local homestead. Each fenced in area contained three or four round huts, and accommodated an extended family, with each generation in their own hut. The building of a Zulu home in Zulu culture is the man's responsibility. In order for this house to stand men and women would gather to help build the house. The women weave the ropes and mats used for used for building, and also weave the top notch of the house. The mats are wound around the the sapling framework, from bottom to the top.For the floor the women plastered with mixture of cow dung and ant-heap soil, which was smeared on the ground. Only one door is as a point of entrance and exit. Normally this entrances were made to be lower, to such a point that when anyone enters will sort of bow his body, to prevent attackers entering the property easily on the ‘attack'.
On arrival we shouted the traditional Zulu greating at the gate to announce our arrival (Izibonga) which are the names and surnames of ancestors of the family. This is to plead with the family to open their gates.
The main purpose of our visit was to visit the Sangoma, the local ‘witch doctor’. After removing our shoes, we entered the Sangoma’s hut and our local guide told us a bit about the Sangoma. Our guide explained that the sangoma is not really a witch but a herbalist/spiritual healer who works with herbs, roots, snake skins, animal parts and many other things. Apparently a sangoma can reveal the past, ‘look’ into the future, find lost objects, and identify thieves if anything has been stolen etc by throwing bones, while talking to his or her ancestors (‘amadlozi’). Our guide explained that you are called by your ancestors and once you have called, you have no choice but to become one, if you choose to ignore them, there may be unexplained deaths in the family, you may become seriously sick with no medical explanation, once you go to begin your training then you will be healed.
The sangoma occasionally hit herself with a ‘whip’ like thing which apparently was warding off evil spirits. She showed a collection of various jars of bits and pieces and we were offered the chance to have a consultation with her. I wasn’t brave enough to have her ‘throw the bones’ for me (which are actually not just bones!) but two of our group did. One of them seemed accurate – and she identified some things that she wouldn’t know about even if she could speak English – coincidence or do the bones work?
We went into one of the huts in which had been left gifts for the ancestors, including a very strong home made beer, which we didn't try (I think I'm glad about this!).
It was mindblowing to think that whilst I’m living the world of broadband, central heating, and digital TV that people still live in this way in the 21st century. On the one hand I think there is something about the way they live that I think it would be a shame to be lost from the planet. On the other hand am I just wanting others to live like this so I can have some romantic view of Africa whilst I sit at home with my lap top?