Change the world

Tourism Management


Tourism students were asked to write narratives of their tourist experience in any tourism destination on the African continent. Here are some of their stories.



“The Place Where The Sun Rise”:

My name is Zamangwane Ntuli, currently a BCom Honours Tourism Student at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.

I left home alone, heading to Mpumalanga (Malelane). A place I had never been to before, I knew only the name. I was curious, I wanted to trace my ancestral background. My forefathers kept on showing up in my dreams, wearing Swati and Shangaan attires, waving at me telling me to come see the beauty of my origins, the mountains, waterfalls and crocodiles. Crocodiles are my ancestral weapons and blood beasts. Mpumalanga has big rivers with huge and numerous crocodiles. During my stay I saw a lot of crocodiles, from a distance though, as we would visit rivers for cultural purposes. 

The first day of my journey was depressing, stressful and unpleasant. I had bought a bus ticket to Witbank at Mthatha Bus Terminal for a bus departing at 11:00. Guess what?, the bus never pitched. All passenger (4 of us) were taken to a long distance taxi rank, forced to board the taxi as they did not want to give us our money back. We sat there until 17:00. As we sat we got to know one another and only to find that we were in the same taxi but heading to opposite destinations. Others were heading to Welkom, Bloemfontein, Rusternburg, Witbank, Pretoria, Johannesburg and Germiston.  It didn’t make sense but who were we to ask? I just sat there praying that I didn’t get lost. I prayed to my ancestors to guide me and be with me throughout this journey as I didn’t know what was going to happen to all of us. As I sat, an old woman boarded the taxi and as she greeted I noticed that she spoke Swati. I had hoped that at least am not alone. I asked her about the place I was heading to, she said it’s her home town and she knew the village I was heading to but unfortunately now she is heading to Rusternburg and again I was alone. The taxi left the Rank at 19:30 and it headed straight to Johannesburg regardless of all the different destinations. The passengers enquired about this and the driver said he doesn't know anything, he had been asked to drive to Johannesburg and he will do as he was told. The driver was a young man in his late 20’s. We arrived in Johannesburg at 02:30 a.m, passengers started to shout at the driver, screaming at him, telling him that this is not where they were headed to and they want their money back. He kept on apologizing for something he did not cause. I felt bad shame, but what were people supposed to do because now it meant they had to board other taxi’s and pay more money to get to their destinations. The driver had to take money out of his own pocket and give each passenger a fare of R250 for each passenger to board another taxi to reach his/her destination. I felt bad and told him to keep mine for petrol as it was not his fault and anyway, from Witbank to Malelane I was going to pay R220.

The province has a lot of toll gates and I went through 4 toll gates before reaching my final destination. On the way to Malelane we passed beautiful mountains with gold like walls. They looked like melting caramel chocolate. The sun shone directly to them creating a beautiful glance and scene. If I had my own transport, I would have stopped to take pictures. In Mpumalanga majority of the people speak Swati. Swati is very tricky but easy to understand. When people speak it’s like toddler’s learning to speak Xhosa. When they start talking, I would find myself starring, wishing they would not stop, but I learnt the language fast. Again you find people who speak Shangaan, as the town is close to Mozambique. I found Shagaan to be difficult to understand. When two people speak the language, I just got lost. I also found that some people can speak both languages, as some of the people in Malelane originate from Mozambique hence they speak both languages. Their grandparents and parents left the country in exile due to wars between tribes ages ago. Some people came to South Africa to seek better lifestyles and employment, but now they regard themselves as South Africans.

Malelane is very dry, it’s like living in a desert. There are few trees in the homesteads. When it’s hot the sun shines directly at you without any shade. Even if you have an umbrella, the sun’s heat still penetrates through the umbrella. I never thought of buying sun screen to protect myself as I wanted to experience the authentic life of my forefathers. I could not even walk outside without my shoes on. Malelane is home of Amangoza (Mango). Homesteads and Villages have tunes of Mango tress, with big juicy Mangoes. I found big pounds of juicy Mangoes on the ground with people just passing by as if it’s nothing, but to them it didn’t matter because they are used to it. I found that Mangoes is not a big deal to them. Locals sell Mangoes only to passing motorists at a price of R3-R5 each, just to have income from the product of their natural resources. It might be that Fruit and Veg shops purchase Mangoes from Mpumalanga homesteads. I ate and collected torns of Mangoes. I think, I ate 5 to 6 Mangoes per day mind you, I did not purchase any but got them from the trees. I even brought a bag of Mangoes home with me when I returned to the Eastern Cape.  

Famous dishes in Mpumalanga include pap, traditional vegetables (inkaka and iGush) these you get from the garden, beans (not Koo or baked beans), chakalaka or chillies and meat. The side dishes are called Umshibo. The family I stayed with had pap and meat for breakfast, lunch and supper. They would substitute meat with one of the vegetables or beans, but eat nothing other than pap. I couldn’t stand eating their traditional vegetables, I felt like vomiting every time I tried them, nor could I eat pap with beans. So every time they ate those, I would just have plain pap with hot water and sugar. I am sure you’re wondering why I didn’t substitute those vegetables with my own, or buy eggs and Russians, but with the family that I stayed with there were no eggs and russians or any other thing that I could substitute with and I couldn’t buy my own because that would be a form of disrespect for the family, so I had to accept and respect their lifestyle. I could not introduce something to the family without the elder’s approval first. I even lost weight because of the diet, I could not stand eating the same thing every day, but there was nothing I could do. When dishing up, you don’t dish up on one plate, the pap and side dish (Umshibo) had to be separate. In the family we did not use spoons to eat, we used our fingers. They couldn’t use spoons, they don’t even know how to hold them when eating. I tried teaching them but they failed. They only used spoons for stirring and dishing up food.    

eNasi hosts a flea market every Wednesday, where locals and people from Swaziland and Mozambique come together in a small field in town to sell different products such as African medicines, hand crafts, beautiful African fabrics, African dresses and skirts, 2nd hand clothing such as jackets and shoes. People from Mozambique and Swaziland take overnight buses in order to come to eNasi to sell their products to make a monthly income. I went to the flea market and the first thing that attracted me were the African products. I bought my self an African dress, African shoes, amabhebe and when it came to African fabrics I could not choose, all the fabrics were so beautiful, it took time for me to choose and I ended up buying myself 3 African fabrics.

People in Malelane respect and love culture. I got invited to umgido wamadlozi (an ancestral ceremony). The ceremony started overnight and I was there to witness it all. A big fire was started outside using wood and not with any type of wood but with big and strong wood. Around the fire place, but not too close, they placed about 10 heavy drums with the intention of softening the leather so that they could produce a good sound. The ceremony started, they placed all ten drums together in a line. Then people started singing and beating the drums. Yhooo, the sound they composed together, it was amazing. I had never heard it before, it was beautiful, it mixed very well with the songs and the sounds that the dancers made. It felt like heaven. I don’t even know how to describe it. People danced two by two and it was wonderful, I was glued up, I didn’t want to miss a thing. Then one guy who was dancing alone on stage with drums beating and people singing to his songs, his ancestors arose, I could see that he felt like a giant. It was amazing to watch him and then suddenly as the people were singing and beating drums, he walked towards the fire placed. The fire was burning and there was a lot of hot red charcoal.

Heeee! Suddenly the guy jumped into the fire and danced on it. I stood up and screamed, I cried very hard as he danced, he kicked the wood coal from side to side and ended the fire. I couldn’t watch, it was a nightmare. I continued screaming, I closed my eyes but I wanted to see at the same time. I thought the guy would hurt himself. Then an old lady came to calm me down, she said “No don’t worry mtukulu (grandchild), he won’t be burnt, it’s just his ancestral spirit, it loves fire. Come down mtukulu”. All the locals did was to just continue singing, ululating and beating the drums as if nothing was happening. They were used to it. The most amazing thing was that the guy did not get burnt. When he was done dancing, I went to him, I wanted to see if he really was OK. I got amazed, he was fine, he was not burnt nor did he even have a small scratch, he had nothing, he was just normal. I was really amazed and I still am but I don’t wish to see that again.