Another day of travel, across the last bits of Swaziland, including a good sized town, where folks were preparing for a wedding [or other] feast buying goats and other goodies. It’s considered a snobbish thing to say that people are happy in poverty, but the vibrancy and bustle of the folks we saw in rural Africa convinced me that most people live life surrounded by the love of their families and the love of God and make the best of it. Only in the cities did we see bitterness and unrest.
We stopped at Ngwenya Glass Complex in Swaziland, quite a sophisticated place that turns trash-glass into wonderful tourist art. I myself bought a glass warthog, with pewter head and legs. And who wouldn’t want such a fine thing? Other folks were buying huge things which we marveled over their ability to get them on the bus, let alone the airplanes. There were wonderful linens, baskets, bowls and legions of peafowl screaming on the grounds. We bought a small one of each but the fowl. Ngwenya Glass claims, “The glass is always greener on our side.”
We crossed the border back into South Africa without incident and our next stop was at the Matsumo Village, home to ex-pat Swazi people who can gain the right to vote in SA. The village is a living history example of a Swazi village [and not ancient history, either]. We were given a wonderful tour by a gorgeous young lady in native dress, sort of a wrap-around dress of stiff fabric [likely originally bark cloth]. Married women added a shawl over one shoulder and darker colors. The men wore short kilts, with fur around upper arms and calves.
The women of our tour were told that we had to allow the men to enter the huts first, as befitted their status. Many a lady was bitterly complaining, when I pointed out to them how low the entryway was. If they preceded the men, there would be very awkward face to butt proceedings. There is sometimes logic in these things.
Bowing to enter
I watched an "older" lady weaving large loose baskets which I could see were used to shelter chickens. Some of the young men were on a hut roof tying down the thatch and they gave me a hank of rope as a souvenir. I was baffled to see that the rest of our group had bee-lined to the amphitheater, grabbing up the seats as if their very lives depended on it.
Chicken houses and the weaver of them
We found excellent standing room along the back wall; perfect since when the music and dance began I could dance along [discretely, I assure you]. Oh it was a marvelous show! Imagine the best gospel choir you’ve ever heard, with one voice leading and singing over, under, around and through the other voices. Hear them singing four part harmony, with sopranos sweetly arcing over deep bass. Add drums and dancing featuring high kicks and short spear brandishing and you get a shadow of the beauty. I was entranced, and, when suddenly I realized the group was singing in English “Jesus died and rose again” I raised my hands in worship. I thought, these are truly my brothers and sisters in Christ, though we are from different hemispheres, indeed, different worlds altogether.
Men as they are meant to be
From the sublime to the mundane, we made our way to a buffet lunch, where the same performers served us lunch and bussed the tables!
A good doze on the bus and we awoke near our hotel at Hazyview, hard by Kruger National Park. Another of the Protea chain, it is a charming camp-type hotel, sprawling over grassy lawns and tended trees, where you could stay a month. We had two nights.
But what a night! We had impala meat and bread pudding.