Shakaland and the remainder of RB

Trip Start Dec 27, 2008
Trip End Jun 27, 2009

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Flag of South Africa  , KwaZulu-Natal,
Thursday, February 12, 2009

Shakaland tows the line between tradition and commercial tourism very closely. And why not? The traditional Zulu lifestyle is a thing of the past and this tourist spot brings it back to life, carefully preserving the culture and identity of it's people whilst making money and creating jobs. Entry is R265 inc. lunch. Whilst walking around a recreation of a traditional Zulu village your group stops at various points and observes demonstrations of Zulu warfare, superstition, weaving, courtship rituals, beer making etc. I tasted some of the beer and it was disgusting, it tasted like stale cider.

The Zulu tribe was founded by King Shaka, a revolutionary warrior who redesigned the spear to suit hand-to-hand combat. It was no longer thrown from distance, instead stabbed and retrieved ready for its next victim. One Zulu man wandered around the village looking pleased with himself, I think he thought he was King Shaka. The demonstration of warfare was very interesting, one representation showed sticks of wood planted in the ground, the Zulu sticks had heads carved and were in bull-horn formation, their enemies were headless. I think the Zulus consider themselves a bit hard.

We were also told about Zulu courtship. A zulu man can take as many wives as he wishes provided he pays the bride-price of 11 cows per wife, to her father. As if to get their own back on their randy husbands the wives placed passion-killers on their husband's member when he went off to war. The moment he became aroused the device tightened around the end of his tackle causing considerable pain, although why he didn't just take it off when he got round the corner, I don't know?

The final demonstration before lunch was of Zulu dancing. This was intense. Frantic beating of the drums accompanied by possessed Zulus stamping their feet whilst holding over-sized feather dusters. The dancing must be very tiring but the dancers put on a great show and the sound of the men and women singing and chanting was so authentic, despite me not having a clue what any of it meant. Finally we ate dinner. I had traditional samp and beans with chicken, it really was so much better than the Xhosa cuisine we had tried in Cintsa.

On our final day in RB we travelled to St Lucia and went on a river cruise with my Uncle John. The St Lucia estuary is renowned for its guaranteed sightings of Hippo and we weren't disappointed. We saw at least fifty in total, the biggest killer of man in the country, other than mosquito. We also saw plenty of Crocs. Staying in RB with my Aunty and Uncle was a backpackers dream, we had such a great time with them and got local knowledge (and prices) of the surrounding area. My Aunty Sue is also a wildlife spotting master!
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