Muofhe blogging

July 5, 2011 at 11:56 am (Uncategorized)

It has been a while since my last post. I have been staying in a kind of suburb of Thohoyandou called Makwarela. It used to be a village and they used to have a forest, but now it’s all houses joining them to Thohoyandou.

Madudu, a really bad photo of me, and Vhoni

I was staying with my friend Mashudu T (Toli, or ‘Madudu’ as given by her small nephew) and her family who have 3 vicious dogs that all walk on only 3 of their 4 legs. There has been electricity in Makwarela for a long time and they have a TV. We spent many evenings watching scary horror movies (Saw VI!), and Venda dramas under thick woolly blankets (very very cold at night now) with her 4 younger sisters; Vhoni, Azwi, Livhu and Andan. The scary movies really freaked me out, I’ve never been good with scary movies! and a couple of times when I went out to pee, if they caught me on my own, the dogs would come and growl and bark at me! Had to run away from them biting at my heels more than once. At the weekend we went to see a beauty contest.. which is another story.. I had a really great time in Makwarela and I hope Mashudu will come and stay with me one day!

Birds on sticks in Mashau

It was Youth Day a few weeks ago which meant it was a holiday from work and I thought I would spend it back in one of my favourite places so far; Mashau. Mashau is a small sprawled out village between Vuwani and Elim.. on the way to Makhado and it is in such a beautiful spot with amazing views of mountains, and forests (for now). I was there for a weekend in June with Mphathe, Thama and Mashaka to visit their family there and Mbilu took me to see the reservoir so I got to go bush whacking in the bushes. I was slightly scared of the cows. To get there, there is no taxi from Vuwani so we had to hitch hike. The first time I have hitch hiked in my life, one man in a fancy car picked us up and was interested in the Mupo Foundation, but could only take us so far.. then a red truck picked us up and we sat in the back with some logs that were covered in creosote.

Grasses in Mashau

So on Youth Day I went on my own, the taxi dropped me too early and again I ended up taking a lift. But the full moon was out and it wasn’t too dark. We walked along the dirt road up the hill to their house in the moonlight, it was beautiful. On that first night there was a lunar eclipse, we stayed up until midnight by a massive fire watching and waiting for it to go back to normal, we saw about 5 shooting stars when the sky went black. We spent the next day walking to another reservoir that some Afrikaaners people once made to irrigate the land, before they were removed for the land to be given back to its original clan owners. We came across some empty European looking houses that looked like they had been burned down a while ago.

Last week I was invited to attend a traditional funeral of a brother of the Chief of one of the places I stayed at a few months ago. I wasn’t expecting it and so wasn’t dressed appropriately, eg I was wearing trousers, so I had to borrow Mphathe’s traditional cloth to wrap around me. I went with Johannes from the office and we arrived when someone was giving a kind of speech. We waited at the back. Then everyone started moving, we were headed to the sacred site. Johannes and I didn’t have transport so we got in the back of a seriously BIG truck with lots of other people. Some women really wanted the mukuhuwa to sit with them and for me to sit on this lady’s knee. So I did, it was a pretty funny journey, people laughing and shaking my hand, I was trying not to be too heavy though and succeeded in giving myself cramp the whole way. At the sacred site everyone was silent. Usually I wouldn’t be allowed in the forest and I was told I too should not speak. I sat quietly at the back. Some women brought the traditional basket in (mifaro) wearing only the Venda skirt and necklace. Men then filled in the grave with soil and then passed rocks in a human chain to place on top, silently, and then the makhadzi (who took me up the mountain that day) sprinkled the grave with seeds and water. Then it was over, everyone said “aa” or “ndaa” as one and silently left the forest. Johannes and I got a lift back to Thoho in a car (actually the hearse the corpse came in) with a crazy product of Jesus the almighty “God owns this whole place, and until you find Jesus in your life, you will cry until you die” Amen.

Thama and the cake

Yesterday it was Thama’s birthday and we had a party! Mphathe bought the ‘things for the party’ including simbas and Marie biscuits, marshmallows and ‘chappies’, balloons and party trumpets! Everyone spent the day preparing, mostly cooking and tidying. I took a trip to the Spar at the other side of the village to buy some wine. It is quite a ways away so it was a good chance to get some sun, and found that it was quite strange to actually be alone walking around.. as it doesn’t happen so often. It was a nice walk, and I got a customary proposal from a man who ‘just wanted to make love to a white woman’.. really I couldn’t resist. I got back to the house and people started arriving, some elders who brought sugar cane and kids who took the balloons 🙂 I was set the task of setting the table with biiig bowls of aforementioned party things, with help from the kids. Muofhe – the kids party entertainer. Then it was time to eat, we had chicken and pap, the cake was brought out, candles lit, candles blown out.. did some dancing to the radio the kids managed to acquire for 2rand. Then as it got dark and the nail like moon was shining and setting, everyone left. Done. We were left alone to sit by the fire, I popped the cork on the wine and gave Thama the drawing I drew of him for his birthday, and we ate 8 squares of fruit and nut chocolate each. Mashaka said she had 10 but I don’t believe her. Also we found out that this was Thama’s 9th birthday, not his 10th as we all thought!

Tomorrow I am going to Zimbabwe for 10 days, then returning to Venda for my last month.. time is going fast!

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