MESSAGE KwaZulu-Natal *Video*

Zulu is the most widely spoken language in South Africa, so I thought I’d pass along a few useful phrases:

  • Hello – Sawubonahle
  • Goodbye – Sala kahle
  • The sun is hot – llanga liyashisa
  • Thank you – Ngiyabonga / Siyabonga

And the most important phrase to learn: Speaking Zulu is difficult (!) – Kunzima ukukhuluma isiZulu

MEET (Cool Meet Ups) – Florida Road. I stayed at a sweet hostel in the Morningside area of Durban and cruised the street’s bars and restaurants. Lots of great options for food, clothes and cappuccinos, but no wireless access (ack!).

EAT (Tasty Eats) – Bunny Chow. Bunny chow, originating in Durban’s Indian community in the 1940s, is a hollowed out loaf of bread filled with vegetarian curry. When you order a Bunny Chow, you ask for quarter, half or whole loaf plus the curry flavor, as in: “I’ll have a quarter mutton.”

As a take-away food, the bread serves both as part of the meal and as a convenient way to carry the curry. The loaves are served in yesterday’s newspapers and you eat it with your hands. Many people can share one Bunny Chow.

There are two theories on how Bunny Chow got its name:

• Theory 1: A restaurant run by Banias (an Indian caste) was the first to create the dish. It was sold as a take-away food to Indian workers that were not allowed in restaurants during the apartheid era.

• Theory 2: The dish was originally called “bania chow” after the tradition in India of merchants selling their wares under a bania (also known as the banyan) tree.

SEE (Must-see Sights) – San/Bushmen Rock Paintings. In KwaZulu-Natal, there are 600 hundred caves and shelters containing at least 35,000 rock paintings. The paintings are between 200-2,000 years old and were made by the San people, who lived in the area for 4,000 years. (The San/Bushmen became assimilated into surrounding tribes by the 1880s.)

The San paintings depict people, animals, and spirits. The San would enter the spirit world through a dance trace, then paint what they saw during their trace journey. Some of the paintings are very delicately drawn and use bold colors. Check them out!

Can’t see the video? Click on this link: San/Bushman Rock Paintings

SHOP (Gotta Have) – Telephone Wire Baskets. I bought 4! OK, it might have been overkill, but I love them! And I might give a few away for presents…maybe…

A distinctly African art form, the wire baskets are all made from hand, with no set design. The artists weave together the colored telephone wires to create a colorful spiral. No two are the same, in color, design or shape. They are fabulous! (and slightly expensive at about $25-$80 a pop).

ACTIVITY (Gotta Do) – Hiking the Drakensberg. These mountains reminded me of American’s great northwest states of Montana and Wyoming , with their impressive mountains and wide open sky.

The highest mountain range in Southern Africa, the “Drakensberg” means Dragon Mountains in Afrikaans and is so named because the:

  • Mountain peaks are spiky like a dragon’s tail
  • Lowland fog unfurls like dragon’s breath
  • Bush fires resemble a dragon’s fury

The mountains on the South African side are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The highest peak is Thabana Ntlenaya standing at 3,482 metres (11,424 ft). I climbed Hodgkin’s Peak, which tops 3,420 meters. Both mountains stand on the South African – Lesotho border, where the view is unmatched!

GIVE (Greatest Need) – Reading! Each September South Africa hosts National Book Week to promote the joy and sharing of books – an important initiate when a whopping 51% of South African households don’t own a single book!

22% of these non-readers say that books are too difficult to read and 45% say books are too expensive. In a country where only 14% of South Africans consider themselves active readers, just 5% of the adults read to their children. Yikes!

You can support South Africa’s reading efforts by “liking” National Book Week on Facebook, tuning into the National Book Week TV channel on YouTube, and following discussions on Twitter @NBW_2011.

ENJOY (Extra Fun) – Sharks Board. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to participate in the Durban Sharks Board because of foul weather, but it sounds pretty cool. In the morning, you can hop aboard one of the boats that inspects the shark nets protecting the Durban city beaches.

If you find sharks alive, you cut them free. If sharks are killed in the nets, they are taken back to a laboratory where they’re dissected for research. You can tag along in the afternoon for this grisly display.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, October 27th, 2011 and is filed under Africa, Messages by Country.

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