Eastern Pondoland… land of the Xhosa and Pondo people.
I was given the name Thandiwe, the Pondo name meaning ‘Loved One'. I lived and worked at Mkhambathi Game Reserve (now a Nature reserve) for several years with the Pondo people and White South African people. Experiencing the peoples’ tribal customs, I participated in celebrations, walked the villages collecting traditional beadwork, and baskets. The baskets, named insinkyia are made from the wild grass grown on Mkhambati. The baskets areused as a vessel for drinking jabula; the fermented beer made from maize.
I collected Ming Dynasty porcelain shards and Cornelia beads with the Pondos found in the sea at the mouth of the Msikaba River, the southern boundary of the reserve. The treasures were from the Spanish galleon, the San Bento ( 1554).
Mkhambhati combines nature at her best, waterfalls, resident baboons and vervet monkeys living on the banks of the river, the mountain zebra walking the beaches, herds of eland and the blue wildebeest roaming through the wild banana palms. Cape vultures soaring over the Msikaba river gorge and last but not least, the green mamba which slithered through my home.
I developed strong friendships which continued through letters and sending large boxes of clothes collected from the second-hand shops in Berkeley and Mendocino for more than 15 yrs while living in California.
A sweet interlude…..
MaEleven, was 4 yrs old when I met her. She is the daughter of my friend Eunice. I would walk for hours along the Wild Coast to visit Eunice at her home. Eunice's home was the centre for Pondo celebrations. MaEleven came to live with my family for several months to develop her career as a physiotherapist. MaEleven delights in telling the story of the Pondos/ her family tribe emerging from their rondavels (the traditional home) in their celebratory beadwork, traditional blankets, and part of their choice was their Berkeley T-shirts.
My life - wandering across the rolling hills of Pondoland meeting the people.