Rural life in the Eastern Cape

In the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, there is an area called 'The Wild Coast.' There are many reasons for that name, one being that surfers travel from around the world in search of its waves, but I think mostly it refers to the fact that it is one of the least developed areas in the country. Its main inhabitants are the Xhosa people, one of the major ethnic groups in South Africa. We visited this area because we wanted to learn about the joys and challenges of rural life in this place and about Xhosa culture. This area is often referred to as Transkei, its name during apartheid when it was one of the 'Homelands' intended to be a home for black South Africans. The area remains one of the poorest in South Africa and struggles with lack of infrastructure as well as high rates of HIV/Aids.

As you can see, it's beautiful country along the coast with round homes called rondavels dotting the hilltops. Many are painted bright colors and have thatch roofs.

We took a tour of the village to learn a bit more. This particular group of homes does not have electricity while others over the hill do.

You can see here that there are crops like corn and pumpkins on the left. Livestock such as goats and cattle roam freely while the crops are fenced.
We visited the wife of the village chief. She told us the story of how she was married and about the process of arranged marriages in her day. Then the women dressed Anna up in Xhosa wedding garb.
Then she wanted Anna to learn how to grind the corn by hand. Anna was excited to learn and the ladies cheered after they saw her skills.
We really enjoyed walks around the village checking out farming operations, shops, and schools.
For supper each day we ate meals cooked by a woman who own the local 'shebeen' or bar. Behind the bar she has these great tables with amazing views. She made pap (thick white cornmeal porridge) with spinach and chicken. I was very happy about such a good meal.
Roof repairs
Stuff to balance, baby to carry.
We stayed at a place called the Mdumbi lodge which is one project of a local non-profit called Transcape. We learned about their work in HIV/Aids as well as their micro-loan program. Learn more about them here:


One response to “Rural life in the Eastern Cape”

  1. DeNee hansen says :

    I’m speechless tha tyou can see and do all of this.

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