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Zululand - South Africa


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.

Cheers,    Andy!