Archive for the 'Around Sodwana' Category


Hlaphi Zikhali- a keen food gardener

Hlalaphi recently did a two week permaculture design course and is very enthusiastic to get into her garden and start applying what she has learnt.


Ezinqeni Community Center/ My Community Clinic

I fell in love with the community centre as soon as I saw it. The simple functional building with a view over the Northern end of the St Lucia World Heritage Site.  Sitting on the verandah you can see lake Sibaya to the North and the worlds second highest vegetated dunes lining the coast.  Huts built of rock and lats scatter the scenery. This is a far corner tucked away in deep rural Zululand.

Ezinqeni center as viewed from where my land is.

Set in rural Zululand.

The building itself has a charm that gives me a taste of the tatty Mozambique Portuguese influence.  Simple, white, dilapidating.

This is a hub for the Ezinqeni. Groups gather here for adult basic education, stokvels (money saving clubs), pension day payouts and various other activities.

In June this year I was called here to a community meeting by Induna Themba Zikhali. This meeting would determine whether I was accepted as part of the community, and be allocated land in the area.  I arrived dressed in a skirt (women should definitely not wear trousers to important meetings). I was allocated a seat, the only chair on the left hand section of the room.  All the other ladies were on mats on the floor on the left of the room. The men were on the right on benches. In the front of the room was the Induna with the elders of the community flanking him in order of seniority. After much discussion in Zulu (which i d0nt yet understand), I was asked a couple of questions. When they heard that I am single and live by myself, the room resounded with clucks of sympathy. When the Induna explained to them that I am an Inyanga (herbalist) the sounds were of utter surprise.  I was made part of the community and I am so thankful for their grace.  I even had a marriage proposal.  A young muscly zulu man (of about 25) came over and said his mother said he should ask me to marry him.  I now know that it was very inappropriate for me to ask him ” how many cows?”.  It would be up to my father to negotiate that.

Since August 2009 I go to the community centre on Monday mornings to do a clinic.The matriarchs of  the community decided that I should be here on the same day as they meet to make mats on the verandah. Probably to keep an eye on this strange woman.  We are slowly building a repal.

I have a few brave patients coming in to be poked full of needles. I explain that it is Chinese traditional medicine, and they trustingly let me work with them.  Together with the acupuncture I usually give a homeopathic remedy and some calcium or vitamin C or other supplements, depending on what I can afford.

In time I would like to use the network of the gogos (old ladies/matriarchs)  to distribute old clothes or donated goods and start some community development projects.  I feel my contribution to this community could be to bring attention to this special community centre and help by fixing the water supply, leaking roof, breaking floor and possibly even wind or solar power. (Imagine screening documentaries in the hall while I am consulting. Imagine  linking with acupuncture training centres abroad via Skype to give them a feel of rural conditions and us the benefit of their knowledge.  Imagine vegetable gardens and avocado and mango trees that feed the needy.)

One step at a time. At the moment that step is my Monday mornings clinic.


Collecting for a Sangoma (traditional healer)

Jabulani Zikhali - gatherer

Jabulani and his gathering tools.

Jabulani and his gathering tools.

I met Jabulani Zikhali (24) this morning while I went for a walk in a spectacularly beautiful landscape near Lake Sibaya. Between his broken English and my broken Zulu I established that he was collecting bark for a small fee for a local Sangoma.  He went on to show me his homestead.  I left my camera behind.  I found a yard full of women making breakfast on the open fire and drying grass for grass mats.  I hope to win their confidence so that I can share with you their barefoot living.

Twitter Updates

  • Having lots of fun with structure going up over the caravan.(thanks Mikael and Andgie the two architecture volunteers) 6 years ago
  • Andgie and Mikael made rice milk. I had home made rice milk chocolate. Yum. 6 years ago
  • Experimenting with blanket cooking and bottling beans. 7 years ago
  • Erin is making ripples into the community with her circle garden concept. 7 years ago
  • John has changed the soil scape of the garden with loads of 'the shit' 7 years ago


July 2018
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