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May'06 | Apr'06 | Jan'06
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Tracey's photos

Monday, May 29, 2006

Day 25 - Hluhluwe

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Day 24 - Hluhluwe at night

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Day 21 - Sacred pool

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Day 20 - Hole in the Wall

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Day 19 - Xhosa village

Monday, May 22, 2006

Day 18 - Port Elizabeth to Coffee Bay

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Day 17 - Cape Town to Port Elizabeth

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Day 16 - Victoria & Albert Waterfront

Friday, May 19, 2006

Day 15 - Seals & penguins

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Day 13 - Strike

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Day 11 - Bo-Kaap

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Day 10 - Seapoint

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Day 7 - Workshop

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Day 6 - Cape Town castle

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Day 4 - Long Street

Sunday, May 7, 2006

Day 3 - Public meeting

Saturday, May 6, 2006

Day 2 - Kapstadt

Friday, May 5, 2006

Day 19 - Xhosa village

Silas, the drummaker and a real Xhosa, took us on the Cultural Tour - we went to his village on the hills right next to the hostel. We got to see a lot - the houses and their interior, the medicine man, the Sacred pool where medicine men get baptised, Xhosa women grinding mealies (corn), a shebeen (an illegal bar) and much more. We also had a real Xhosa meal that Silas' sister cooked.

So... Here's what I learned.

The building material is cow dung and grass - Xhosa make bricks out of it and then build round houses. The shape of the houses has proven to be quite stable and easier to keep warm or cool (depending on the season). Most houses are light-green. I've heard a couple different explanations - one is that it's natural paint created out of local limestone. The other is that the Chief had painted his house green, and everybody else wanted to be like him. Whatever the reason is, 99% of houses are green.

When a house breaks down, they just build a new one. Houses that belong to different families are quite far from each other, and it's common for a family to have several huts.

Inside there's only one room and, surprisingly, some furniture. Women sit on the floor, men use chairs. Same house can be shared by quite a few people (kids included), chicken, dogs, cats, and whatever creatures walk in.

No, there's no electricity or running water.

At 18 men undergo an initiation rite that involves circumcision and sending them into the woods for three months. They are not allowed to see women during that time, but that's their only way to manhood.

Men are allowed to get married before they build a house, but they don't own anything as long as they live with their parents. However, marriage is not trivial - they have to come up with 15 cows for the father of the bride. Of course, if the bride is substandard, this number is negotiable. Some, but not all, marriages are arranged.

Xhosa women farm - they plant corn and sugarcane. However, farming does not provide enough food. Xhosa men either leave the village to work in the mines or sit around and drink in shebeens. Men do not cook or farm. There's 60% unemployment rate in the region - but everyone seems content.

The medicine man is a respected member of the community - he is a healer. I was surprised to learn that he only came to the village about three years ago. He used to work in the mines, but then the spirit told him to learn how to make medicine out of herbs. He accepts payments in chicken and money. Makes me wonder...

By the way, "x" in Xhosa is not "eks" - it's a glottal click that I can't yet pronounce. Still practicing.

apete said on Sunday, June 4, 2006 at 9:22 PM about Tracey with sugarcane

When we were excavating in Peru, we used to walk by a cane field on our commute and we used to take a cane on our way home to suck on.

Noor said on Thursday, June 8, 2006 at 9:49 AM about Do I fit in?

I love this photo!

I keep forgetting to check your photolog! You should have an RSS feed since I'm so lazy! :)

O said on Thursday, June 8, 2006 at 9:59 AM about Do I fit in?

I wouldn't want to get aggregated! ;)

Some kind of cactus Indian Ocean Traditional Xhosa houses
One-bedrooms Window Chickens live there
Pig Inside the house Inside the house
Not much light Silas and a chicken More houses
Dog Farming Upside down scarecrow?
Roof Another window Lonely pig
Houses Houses again Rocks are important
Tracey with sugarcane Vegetation Tire
Tracey at the Sacred pool I am Xhosa Tracey is Xhosa too
Red mud Donkey A Xhosa woman
Say no to urban planning Local kids A Xhosa boy
The youngest Watching strange white people Simple toys
Do I fit in? Another kid Two
Looking at the photos Tracey is surrounded He is not a local
This is how it's done Piglets Grinding mealies
Tracey was good! Mealies She was fast
Dung bricks Silas and his family Lunch
Sharing a meal