Wednesday, August 1, 2012

South Africa: A Week at Mdumbi (part 2)

I met so many interesting people in my week at Mdumbi. As part of our travel writing experience, we broke into small groups and went into the Tshani village every day (escorted by our translators) and spent the mornings with some of the villagers.

We visited Mama Nosukile on our second village visit. Her hut had a TV (she was watching a soap opera, "Scandals", her favorite TV show, even though it was in English and she didn't understand everything), and multiple cell phones plugged into a power strip. At one point during our interview, she pulled a cell phone out of her pocket and answered a call. I'm not sure I've ever seen my own grandma do that, and this woman was in her mid-seventies. We helped her make pap (a cross between dough and rice) and she let us try some. It was nice, just sitting in her hut, eating lunch.
She dressed up for the pictures!
We also visited a witch doctor (called a Sangoma in the village). He's an alternative medicine type of doctor, and he made all sorts of "potions" while we were there. He crushed up herbs and put them in his palm, then he blew them towards the door, and that was a love potion. He had trouble pronouncing my name (I think the "tlin" part threw him), so I told him my name was Kate, which somehow got shortened to Cain. So whatever spells he tried to put on me probably didn't work because he was using the wrong name. And that was comforting.
The Sangoma blowing the love potion out the door.
I was sitting next to the Sangoma's wife, and she had a bag of beads and a few completed bracelets in front of her. At one point, she pointed to one of them and asked me if I liked it. I told her yes, it was beautiful, and she put it around my wrist, saying, "There. It's your present." Melted. My. Heart.
My bracelet. I'm convinced it has magical powers.
On our last day, we visited a woman named Boniwe, and she put us through our paces! She dressed us up in traditional outfits...
...and sent me and Bree straight to the tap to get water...
...which we had to carry on our heads!
Those buckets were heavy!

We giggled the entire time!

Finally emptying them!
Then we harvested sweet potatoes from her garden.
Boniwe's daughter showed me the right way to do it
Our turn! It was hard work!
I had to carry the bucket of sweet potatoes on my head (apparently they don't carry things in their arms)

Washing the sweet potatoes
While we waited for the potatoes to cook, Boniwe's daughter and friend taught Bree and me how to make beaded necklaces and bracelets. The girls were so much faster than we were!
We had a great conversation with Boniwe. She asked us just as many questions as we asked her. She wanted to know about our parents, our school, and if we were allowed to date yet (I think she wanted one of us to marry her son!). At the end, she asked us to sing her a song, so we sang "Twinkle, Twinkle," and her daughters sang us a Xhosa gospel song.

She let us wear the outfits back to the backpackers because she wanted all our friends to see us dressed up. We were paparazzied by the rest of the group when we got back to Mdumbi Backpackers for lunch!

 It was my favorite day in the village by far!


  1. How heavy were those buckets you had to carry on your head?!

    1. Heavy! Haha, I don't know the exact weight, but the bucket was about halfway or two-thirds full, so i'd say six or seven pounds. I just kept thinking, I cannot drop this, I cannot drop this!!!!


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