It was hard to pull ourselves away from the animals and landscapes, but we took the opportunity to visit a nearby village–Justicia. And I’m glad we did.
Lauren, the co-manager at Idube arranged our excursion with Zamani Cultural Tours. Two young men–Gorman, the guide and Alpha, the driver met Barb, Pauline (a wonderful British woman, also a guest at Idube) and me at the lobby . As we drove out of the Sabi Sands Game Reserve area and towards Justicia (their home village), Gorman shared a great deal of information about the history of Justicia and its residents. Fascinating!
The tour included various performances and a dining experience.
Stop One: The Gumboot Dancers
Per Gorman and Wikipedia, Gumboot dancing developed years ago in the gold mines. The wet conditions required workers to wear rubber (gum) boots. Spoken communication was often restricted, as was drumming, so miners developed rhythms and movements, using their boots as a vehicle for sound and meaning.
Barb, Pauline and I sat under a shade tree, on a wooden bench and enjoyed a wonderful performance. Click here for video. Evidently Gorman is a member of the Gumboot dancing troupe when he isn’t guiding tours.
Stop Two: The Warrior Dancers
We strolled through the village with Gorman to view our second performance. A group of young men, accessorized with wooly leg warmers and a small band of fantastic musicians were warming up when we arrived. Again, we were an audience of three…in reality it was a like a private event. This is a very vigorous dance. Certain elements reminded me of katas I learned in karate. Gorman explained that these dancers get together regularly: weekend family gatherings, village events, etc are all opportunities to dance. Historically, the movements symbolize celebration after successful hunting excursions. Click here to see my video.
Stop Three: African Choir
Next we listened to a choir. Their voices blended so beautifully–I got goosebumps! Later in the song, several of the singers invited us to join them in dancing to their music. Pauline filmed both Barb and I dancing, and it’s a
good thing crying shame that I didn’t get that video! My two left feet, and appalling lack of rhythm were evident! But, we had a ball! Click here to see video of the choir.
Stop Four: Home Cooking
Alpha took us to his mom’s home for a quick cooking demonstration. She showed us how she makes cornflour for some popular dishes. It’s a labor intensive process, starting with hard corn kernels and ending with a fine flour. Barb is giving it her all as she pounds the kernel with a heavy post in a wooden basin. We sampled some homemade peanut butter and cornmeal items. Tasty!
Stop Five: Local Pre-school
Both Alpha and Gorman are alumni of this enchanting preschool. The children are absolutely darling! They sang some sweet songs and recited the days of the week, the months of the year and several cute poems (in English). We felt like honored guests. These children had impeccable manners and all of us were smitten by their charm!
I recommend taking a few hours and visiting a local village if you can fit it into your safari. It was definitely worth it!
Barb and I also toured the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. It was a sobering and inspiring tour. There are 2 entrances to the museum: Whites and Non-Whites. Each entrance ticket is randomly marked as White or Non-White. You must enter the museum door based on your ticket. Barb was Non-White and I was White. So, we entered separately. It was eerie. As we strolled through the first part of the museum, we observed enlarged pictures of actual ID cards and documentation that South Africans had to carry at all times. Various dates and political events were highlighted as well. To pretend for a moment what it must have been like was disturbing. I can’t begin to imagine how it really was.
Eventually, the Whites and the Non-Whites converge, so Barb and I continued our tour together. Many of the exhibits focus on Nelson Mandela. What a remarkable human being.
One of my favorite quotes is: “Apartheid is exactly where it belongs–in a museum.”
Shortly after our museum tour, Barb and I left sweet South Africa. It was a whirlwind trip for sure, but its impact was mighty. Several friends warned me: Africa will change you and you may leave Africa, but a part of your soul will remain…
I’m surprised to say that after a lifetime of traveling, this trip did change me…and I left a piece of my soul in the safari.
A final image to leave you with…
An evening safari drive, the sun sets over a vast horizon. Hyenas are calling. The gentle wind is blowing. Gradually the Southern Cross and Scorpio appear in the sky. A shooting star traverses the heavens. Suddenly, you feel very small in the world and simultaneously, you feel at one with the universe. And I can’t wait to go back again!