Friday, May 14, 2010

Rural South Africa

As our time in South Africa comes to an end, we took a day trip into some rural areas very near Port Elizabeth. Our tour guide, Bradley LeVack, often is a consultant on land issues in these areas and at the same time tries to bring tourists to these areas so that they are able to glimpse the life of poor indigenous peoples. These areas are not far from cities by car but impossible distances those who must walk to the city.

We were especially impressed by the spirit of the people, because they were extremely happy to see us and expressed pure delight that we came to visit them. In the village of Bhica, all 42 of the school children came on a Saturday to their mud hut school so they could see us and sing for us.

We witnessed a strong community spirit; not only were the children at school on Saturday, but so too were other villagers, especially mothers. In fact, they also entered into the singing and started moving and dancing to the rhythms. Even though the people have very little, they are happy. Our guide and friend, Bradley, used some of our fees to give the children two soccer balls that they immediately started using, since they had been using a homemade ball. Because they are building a kindergarten, he also donated R2000 (approximately $300) of our fee money towards that project.

Upon leaving this small village, we travelled on more dirt roads into Hamburg, where women from the Keiskamma Arts Project made a native Xhosa lunch for us. We ate deliciously cooked umxoxzi (squash), iimbotyi (beans), umnqgusho (samp with spinach), inkukhu (chicken), igusha (lamb), irostie (bread), ginger beer, juice, and kafi (coffee) or tea. After lunch, we learned a new dance and drumming on African Djembe drums. Our host proudly explained that this project empowers 40 people to make and sell their products at the craft centre. Our last stop at the Studio and Centre proved to us that these women and men are unbelievably talented.

Throughout our day, we had experienced the true meaning of the African spirit: ubuntu.

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