Nan and Walt's 1999 - 2000 Sabbatical
Report #9 - Part II.a, March 23, 2000
Shamwari "Xhosa" Village


Shamwari sees as part of its mission the education of its visitors about native cultures. It is also striving to help preserve those cultures. I quoted the Xhosa in the title because, although it is called a Xhosan village, three different cultures are represented: Xhosan, Zulu and I can't remember the third.

We were welcomed to the village by a number of the players we were to see. I believe they were professional actors. It is certainly the case that this village is idealized. Many of the native South Africans live in townships under appalling conditions. The "houses" appear to be one room with mud, wooden slat, metal or, in the best areas, cement block walls. The roofs are sometimes thatched, like these pictured here, but are more often tin or plastic ladened with stones to keep them on.

While I was not able to specifically photograph individual styles of buildings, you'll find a variety in the backgrounds of many of the photos on this page. I never found out what the significance was of the the particularly colorful buildings.


The first order of the day was entertainment. The man in gold was kind of the MC for the whole tour. There is a closeup of one of the xylophones on the right. Notice the sounds are made on pieces of wood!


Next we were shown a variety of styles of dancing. Notice the "horn" being played in the background.


Some of the dances were done by males alone, others by females, and some were mixed. The ones on the right are doing a boot dance. Notice the "wellies"!


Next we saw how some of the food was processed,


including the beer which we got to taste. It is based on maize and is very thick and smoky.


Walt and I have been amazed at the things the women carry on their heads and are often trying to sneak shots of it. Here we had an opportunity with impunity. (The most impressive load we have seen was a bundle of wood about a meter in diameter and about a meter and a half long!)


We were welcomed into typical homes from a variety of cultures and told about their lives. These actresses were especially expressive!

The boy in white above is becoming a man in the tribe. The ceremony requires that he paint himself in white clay and fast in the wilderness for a certain amount of time. After the fasting, he is circumsized. (There's a lot of controversy about this at the moment because of health concerns.) At completion of the ceremony, he puts on a new suite of cloths (westernish) and returns to society.

This brings to mind a comment on the dress style of the native Africans: We are amazed to see the quantity of clothing most wear even in the hottest weather. Generally, most wear at least a sweater, if not a coat, and many wear stocking hats. The other surprising thing is that the clothing is mostly darkly colored!

Go back to Part II - Shamwari
Go back to Part I - Report #9
Go on to Part III - Monkeyland

Back toNan Schaller's and Walt Bankes' Sabbatical Page


Nan C. Schaller
Rochester Institute of Technology
Computer Science Department
102 Lomb Memorial Dr.
Rochester, NY 14623-5608
telephone: +1.585.475.2139
fax: +1.585.475.7100

27 March 2000