The Mountain – 20th April

April 22, 2011 at 10:30 am (Uncategorized)

Tea plantation

I have been writing in a diary every day whilst being here so that I can remember the experience in many years to come. This is my entry for the 20th April when I was in Duthuni staying with a makhadzi (Nyamukamadi) and her grand-daughter (Nyadzanga).

‘Fuck off’ in Afrikaans means ‘whatever’! Vho Lucy was telling little Nyadzanga to fuck off yesterday, I was shocked!

We got up around 7, and had bread and tea – it wasn’t raining! I put my clothes back on the line. … We took some bananas and oranges, simba and chappies, and set off for the mountain that we can see from the house. It was a steep climb at first and there were maize fields going so high up! When we reached some tall trees, I thought this was it, the top – we saw a monkey – but it wasn’t at all, we walked further along the mountain, past houses that I was surprised to see so high up – then we came to the tea plantation – miles and miles of shiny green tea leaves. It was actually beautiful; smooth green then pockets of forest (the sacred sites) down into the valley, then great mountains going up the other side with steep rock faces. I wasn’t allowed to take a photo of the [heart of the] sacred site, I think it was because I would disappear if I did so. So I didn’t. Nyamukamadi caught some grasshoppers to fry and eat later. We were walking for a while when we came across the great big ‘Tshivhase Tea Factory’ in the middle of the plantation (Tshivhase only got involved last year, mukhuwas [white people] took the land in 1972, they told the villagers, like Nyamukamadi and her family, that they had to go and live on the other side of the mountain, then when they refused [saying this was their land where they have stayed for thousands of years, look this is our sacred site..] the mukhuwas burned down their houses). We went inside and asked to buy some tea. Some nice ladies helped us out – and with each one we bought, we somehow gained a free box of tagless teabags – great! On the way out I saw another monkey, and some guy wanted to ‘be my friend’.. I didn’t really like the idea.. anyway, we walked on and came to the sacred site, the sacred forest. We had to greet the ancestors – “aa” – then we walked around the edge because I am not meant to enter, or I will disappear. The forest was so peaceful and magnificent – big old trees, lots of weed like plants and hanging vines, there was a constant noise from the small insects – it was so dense and green, and cool – spiders were all around the edge, their webs bridging the gap between the forest and the tea bushes. An owl was disturbed by us and it flew from one branch to another. I really felt again how important it is to preserve these areas of rich biodiversity, and how profound and reviving it feels to be in a place so ancient and spiritual, and full of life. We walked onto the next island of forest where Nyamukamadi went inside to do her rituals. Mashudu and I waited outside. Then we started to walk back when a truck drove past and offered us a lift! So we got in the back with 3 Zimbabwean guys and some wood. I got a very muddy ass.

More tea

They took us to the junction near Mapitas bar where Mashudu and I went with the Chief of Tshidzivhe, and we walked from there, visiting a couple of the makhadzi’s relatives, to the Chief of Vhutanda’s place. I like the Chief of Vhutanda, he has a nice warm personality. We took our muddy shoes off [the 2nd time I have actually worn shoes and not flip flops] and went inside his house (dance music playing outside). We were able to ask him a few questions and he gave us fanta pineapple, and lovely fresh brown bread with the most amazing ripe avocado, and fresh honey from the wild (!!) in a box with a few dead bees and ants. It tasted so good. And since it was 3:30 and we had only eaten a few bananas and half an orange since breakfast I didn’t mind so much the remarks about me being a chibumba.

We left the chief (with an avocado to ‘take away’) and walked back through the villages back to Nyamukamadi’s house. I was introduced to quite a few people, and some kids shouted ‘Mukhuwa’ VERY loudly from a ways away. The light at sunset was really nice, and we are still high up in the mountain even at the house so there were beautiful views across the plains all around. When we got back we ate some more avocado, warmed some water on the fire for a bath, and went to bed. A good day.

[Actually I’m not sure that it is entirely correct that ‘fuck off’ means ‘whatever’ in Afrikaans.. maybe someone will tell me..]

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