A friend’s mentioning his overtime for working today reminded me that it’s a holiday in the States. I’d totally forgotten. Enjoy your day off. My next holiday is Sept 24, Heritage Day.
I’ve made some friends here, or acquaintances at least. There’s a group of young people working at NGOs, the hospital, schools and churches. They’re mostly from South Africa but there are some Germans and things in there too. These are some of the same people I played soccer with on Thursday. On Friday I went to a residence on the hospital grounds to play a board game and hang out with some of them. That’s what passes for night life here in Ingwavuma but it was a fun time.
On Saturday I took public transportation alone for the first time here. Public transit here (which is quite similar to Cape Town’s public transport) are ‘taxis’. These are minibuses, SUVs and the like, which people flag down to get in and then get off where they need to, paying a set fee for the distance to the driver. It’s sort of like a hybrid between a taxi and a bus in American terms. Fare from here to town is R7, a little less than $1.
I’d taken them with some people from Ziseze before, but Saturday’s trip into town was my first alone. Great victory! Except I got there at 1:10pm and the shops close at 1pm. What kind of town has shops that close at 1pm? But I walked around for a while and got a coke at a take-away place that was still open.
a sheep in the road in ‘town’ in Ingwavuma
The “town” of Ingwavuma consists of a small shopping plaza with less than a dozen establishments, only a few of those are bigger than the couple hole in the wall take-away places. There is a supermarket, a building supply place, a gas station, a furniture store, an electronics store and a barber shop. Across the street are maybe a dozen stalls where people sell (probably home-grown) vegetables and things. Goats may be wandering in the street; cattle aren’t far away.
the water spigot at Okhayeni Primary School–the school doesn’t have running water
One of the places I’d got to via taxi was one of the schools the radio project works in, Okhayeni Primary School. The radio project group has called themselves what translates to the Okhayeni Strong Recorders. I think this is a pretty rad name.
Sunday I went to a local church which is mostly made up of Zulus. The preacher spoke in English but a member of the congregation translated on the spot–I was really impressed with this guy, incidentally. The service itself wasn’t particularly noteworthy besides it lasting 3 hours, but as I sat waiting for the service to start, some of the gathered, mostly women, sang some hymns in Zulu rather spontaneously. One started a hymn without any prompting or communication with others but many others soon joined in, filling out the harmonies. Some of them were particularly gorgeous and gave me chills.
a somewhat typical homestead around here with some older mud-and-stick buildings and some more modern buildings
In the afternoon I went for a long walk down the hill along the main road, turning back only when I was hot and sweaty and miles away. The road was surprisingly quiet and besides the occasional homestead, it was mostly just grass and trees and hills and valleys around me.
Homestead does tend to be a more appropriate term than home here: most places people live have multiple smaller buildings bunched together. Often they’re separated out by function–one may be the kitchen; one may be the sleeping quarters.
One Zulu exchange that I’ve enjoyed particularly is as follows, and it definitely loses something in writing, in the rhythm and cadence:
One: Sanibona (hello, to a group)
Group, in unison: Yebo! (yes, or general acknowledgment)
One: Ninjani (how are you, to a group)
Group, in unison: Siyaphila (we are fine)