Up the hill, more than a 45-minute by drive from Thanda, near Mkuze South Africa, staff from The Happy Africa Foundation visited Mr. Ntshangase for a cultural talk, alongside African Impact volunteers. They were there to learn more about the community and culture that both organisations work to help. These visits help our staff understand the needs of the community and build relationships with important members of the community and remain in good standing with the public.
Mr. Ntshangase is a 70-year-old community member – meaning he’s a well-respected elder, who lives with his wife whom he married in 1969, long before the oppressive apartheid regime was abolished.
“With my wife, we had 10 children but two of them passed away,” said Mr. Ntshangase, a fate common in the area as a result of the HIV epidemic. “Now we have eight children: four sons and four daughters.”
Mr. Ntshangase lives with his sons, though his daughters moved away to live with their husbands, as is traditionally practiced amongst the Zulu people of the area. There are a number of huts on the property, allowing for a homestead where the families live in separate buildings but together on the same property. Other buildings are used for ceremonies or special occasions, like our visit.
“The room where we are sitting is the guest’s hut,” explained Mr. Ntshangase, “We are using this hut for weddings, talks, ceremonies and when a guest is visiting our house. We have also a hut for the kitchen and a hut to store everything.” Mr. Ntshangase lives a traditional lifestyle commonplace in the area; mostly this means he practices subsistence farming and craft making.
“I have cows, goats and chicken. I am taking care of them with my sons and we are selling it for meat. I work also in our vegetable garden. When we kill a cow, we are cutting the skin and we produce Zulu traditional clothes, shields, etc. and I sell it,” he explained.
“We are always worrying about water,” explained Mr. Ntshangase, “There is no water source in the community. A truck is coming and supplying us with water every week. We need water for the cows, the goats and to grow vegetables in our garden. During the winter, when the ground is too dry, it is very hard for us to take care of our animals and we have lot of problems.”
It’s for this reason that community gardens in this area are so important, and a part of the many Happy Africa Foundation initiatives in the area. In this community a number of individuals run a community garden at the bottom of the hill, where produce is sold to local markets and thus creates an income for many. Although great strides have been made to facilitate development in the area, there is still a chronic lack of resources and service delivery.