Friday, April 8, 2011

Durban – KwaZulu Natal. Landfall in South Africa

This morning we arrived in Durban, our first stop in South Africa. 

I’m ashamed to say that I have never visited here in all the years I lived in Southern Africa so this was very exciting for me. Merle was here when she was a pre-teen – doesn’t count.
Durban is a city of 31/2 million people (at least) and has always represented a different ethnic diversity than that I was used to in Cape Town – as an example the largest population of Indians outside India live in Durban – 11/2 million people. The African population is primarily Zulu – again a difference from Cape Town or Zimbabwe.
Natal was given its name by the always-to-be-mentioned Vasco Da Gama – he anchored off its shores on Christmas Day in 1497. It was originally populated by small groups of Bushmen who left their mark in cave paintings that have been dated back 30000 years. Hottentot tribes followed them much later – round about the time old Vasco was offshore – they were herders and lived in relative peace (we were told) with the Bushmen – who were hunter – gatherers. African tribes arrived in two major migrations – in the 17th centuries. One from West Africa and another – the precursors to the Zulu and Xhosa people from East Africa – Tanzania on down. The Zulu didn’t think much of the indigenous Bushmen and forced them out, while successive highly capable leaders pulled disparate groups together as the Zulu nation culminating with Dingiswayo and Shaka and his creation of their military tactics and prowess.
In the meantime whites had also begun the colonization of southern Africa and commencing a migration north that was destined not to be good for either side. The Dutch arrived in the Cape in 1652, set up a trading and refueling post and with successive waves of immigration were fruitful, multiplied and metastacized.
French Huguenots came to escape religious persecution. Dutch came in greater numbers after Napoleons wars. The British came after the Napoleonic wars ended. The usual story. The Cape was Dutch, then British, then Dutch again and finally the British took it one last time.
Natal was bitterly fought over – The Zulu nations had their share of fighting for power, then the British – Zulu Wars, followed by the Anglo – Boer wars which seem to have occurred in two rounds with the biggie between 1898 and 1902 over who got to own the gold of the Transvaal. I was surprised to learn that Durban was impacted directly by WW2 – with the sinking of 48 ships off the coast here and the buzzing of the city by shipborne Japanese fighter ‘planes. I love this stuff.
Now, of course all of that is ‘history” and a new history is being made. So the look and feel of the city becomes more African; the street names change (actually that happens first) so Broad Street becomes Dr Yusuf Dadoo Street and then all the other liberation notables get an avenue or boulevard.
 Everyone was keen to see as much as they could - off the tours went - early am - here is Jay my bridge partner waving farewell as he heads off

Today we went on a tour to the Valley of a Thousand Hills – a most beautiful part of the country within 30 miles of Durban. The valley has been carved by the Umgeni River (which right now is a bit dry because rain has been sparse). 

While there we visited the PheZulu Park which is a kind of “Old Williamsburg” of Zululand 

they had locals in native costume greeting us, 

toilets in native decoration for our convenience

and put on a show of Zulu song and dance – it was wonderful.
Thought it would be nice to see the audience…………

…….and the dancers……

…….and wondered if you could figure out who was Captain America

and Ms Africa.
 You know who was very focused on capturing the African (Zulu) beadwork

After the hard work we were treated by these absolutely delightful ladies to Tea (or Coffee) and Scones. The scones were homemade and absolutely delicious. Oh yum. The coffee was instant (Nescafe) and reminded me why I left the country

As you looked out over the Valley you can see a hotel (for people) at the top of the hill and a hotel (for weaver birds) in the tree. 

We left for our house in the dock after a lovely day and as I write this are back at sea heading for East London

1 comment:

  1. How nice! You've made some friends that you'll be keeping contact with, I'm sure (Jay :)