After the visit to the hut of the inyanga, we were given an opportunity to buy beadwork and other artwork from some of the Zulu women. Then we began to hear chants and singing as a crowd of Zulus paraded towards us and invited us into a hut. We had to enter according to their customs - men enter first and sit on the right-hand side followed by the women who sit on the left side of the hut. Once inside, a man lit some incense and walked it around the room. As he passed by me, I realized from the smell of the smoke that he was burning marijuana leaves!
The dancers began to demonstrate a variety of Zulu dances. Most of them consisted of kicking a leg high into the air before stomping the foot very hard on the ground. There was a lot of singing, chanting, and drumming that accompanied the dancers. I was intrigued by a very strange instrument that looked like a drum lying on its side. The musician would rub his hands inside the hole of the drum to make a low pulsating hum (click to listen). It certainly brought a unique element to the music.
"Welcome to the party."
dancing to the beat
mighty Zulu stomp - a signature dance move
wishing us a warm welcome and happy travels
audience participation - Go Traci!
Party over. Time for lunch.
At the conclusion of the dances, the performers led us out of the hut as they continued to sing (click to listen). They led us to the cafeteria where they left us to enjoy a nice buffet lunch. The lunch consisted of a salad bar, hot bar of meats and vegetables, and a dessert bar. The meal was included in our tour package. There was one traditional item on the buffet but I don't remember the name of it. It was made from ground corn and tasted a lot like cous cous.
Some may argue that Shakaland is too commercialized. After all, the Protea Hotel chain has a registration desk in this recreated village offering tourists the opportunity to spend a night in a hotel room shaped like a Zulu hut. Additionally, on the way out, everyone passes by the souvenir shop selling all of the typical tourist items - t-shirts, postcards, fridge magnets, mouse pads, CDs, etc. However, for me, Shakaland was a fun, hands-on way to learn about Zulu history and culture. As I watched some small Zulu children try to imitate their parents as they performed for us, I thought to myself how wonderful it is that knowledge of their culture has a chance of surviving in this fast-changing world. Continue to Cape Town...
interesting ladies restroom sign
Shakaland overlooks this beautiful valley