Cape Town to Vuwani

February 28, 2011 at 12:41 pm (Uncategorized)

I have been finding it difficult to find the time to write, and get on the internet so sorry for getting this out so late! I have begun this blog about three times now without being able to finish it or save it… and Im sure its going to be a bit rushed and bungled.

Hout Bay

I arrived into Cape Town on the 9th Feb I think, and spent 10 days or so staying in a beautiful house overlooking the Cape, just south of Simonstown on the Cape Peninsula. We had lots of meetings and ate lots of amazing food, and I swam in the sea almost every morning! I had the most amazing calamari in a bar that was pretty much in the sea, and cooked some ‘white stump nosed’ fish on the bbq at our house, which if I may say so was absolutely delicious.

We had a meeting in Stellenbosch, which felt a bit like the south of France to me, and a meeting in Stenberg, one of the oldest, poshest, vinery’s in the area. We met around candle light outside, or in the front room of the Simonstown house that has a vast view of the sea. We used snuff and incense to bring us good vibes for the meetings, and I was given a protection amulet with minerals and plants in. I was then left to my own devices in the house, with the use of the hire car for a few days.. which was pretty amazing, I drove for miles and miles along coastal roads and walked along some beaches, paddling in the sea, I saw some baboons! Then I drove myself to the airport, got on a plane to Johannesburg.. got stuck in the airport waiting for Mpathe to arrive from Botswana on a plane that was ‘indefinitely delayed’ then was driven at lightning speed to Vuwani, where I have been staying for the past week with Mpathe, her son and her niece.

Mpathe’s house in Vuwani (a village 30km from Thohoyandou) doesn’t have electricity, and hasn’t for 3 years due to corrupt government people, and the electric line goes just by the house. So it has taken longer than usual to get stuff done involving the internet! It is really nice to live by candle light and fire though.

In the week I was at Vuwani I went to the high court to see the case of the Ramunangi clan be upheld against the builders, who now have a court order to stop building their tourist chalet in the Ramunangi sacred site. The makhadzis (women custodians of the sites) were very happy and ululated outside the court! I have met all the people at the Mupo Foundation, where I will be working, who are all very nice. It is a small one-room, one-computer and one-internet lead, office. We had a meeting with the makhadzis here, in which I was introduced. It was great to meet with such wise ladies, and a lady called Joyce gave me a name – Muofhe – which means ‘the one who doesn’t like to feel hungry’, which is totally suitable for me! No idea how she just knew that.

Vuvha

The weekend just gone we were visited by some friends of Mpathe’s, one from USA and one from Johannesburg, they are white guys who are training to be sangomas (traditional healers). Mpathe took them, and me, to her home where she was born, to a village deep in the mountains called Vuvha. We celebrated her niece’s birthday with cake and dancing, then the next day Mpathe’s brother took us for a walk up into the mountain to teach us some of the medicinal plants in the area. We set off about 9.30am I think, and after a detour to a big waterfall where I half swam in the stream below, we got back about 4pm… lonnng way! Back at the house we ate some ‘pap’ with chicken’s feet (with the claws on!). Pap is like TZ in Ghana. Then we drove the long drive back to Vuwani and sat by the fire looking at the stars.

I can’t help but make comparisons between here and Ghana, it is a very different place. I arrived into Cape Town to lovely Mediterranean weather; not half as hot as Ghana.. and the roads are big, paved and wide, there are lots of malls and grid-like street layouts. Cape Town felt a lot like California to me really. The scenery is absolutely stunning though with massive mountains and a bright blue sea that is always changing.

Since I got here a running issue keeps coming up, which I had not totally considered before. Mpathe and people who are living in the traditional way, and honouring the traditional culture that has been here since time began are constantly persecuted by many of the christians here who say they are practicing the work of the devil. They banish members of their family, and encourage younger people not to get involved with the traditional ways, not to keep even photographs of their elders. They also burn traditional objects, like the big drums and the curly Wilderbeast horns. What will this country be like if everyone were Christians?? Perhaps it would be like any other Western country; there would be no indigenous culture anymore, no deep knowledge about their own heritage, no diversity. Just bible bashing, money grabbing jesus saviours who don’t care two cents about the environment, the sacred sites or the loss of a rich culture. Christianity isn’t the only religion in this world, far from it (and to me it feels like the most destructive and manipulative in the way they have spread round the world), so why can’t they leave other people to follow their own beliefs, ESPECIALLY when those beliefs are what the people would have been doing until some greedy white missionaries from a far away land looking to dominate came and said ‘hey, you should be praying to our god, HE is the real one… and to do this you need to give me money to build a fantastical church’. In my mind, this is getting mighty close to ripping the heart out of Africa. With development and Christianity the people here are no longer eating so much traditional food, they have kfc and coca cola instead.. they are no longer respecting the elders as much, and they are no longer doing the traditional ceremonies.. instead they have TV, fancy cars blaring loud music and an abundance of malls in which to shop. I think there is an urgent need to revive the passion in the youth for their culture, and empower them to not feel that Christianity is the one and only way in life!

Ok, rant over.. Im sure there are other factors involved, and it isn’t all the christians here that act in this way, but still.. something has brought change here.

So today I am moving to a different village to stay with Mashudu, who is my age, where I will be able to talk to and learn from the Makhadzis there!

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