Ghost Mountian is a rugged peak with many caves. Over the centuries, Zulus have buried their dead chiefs in the caves and the bright processions by torchlight on the mountain appeared to the people on the plains as if they were ghosts.
Our hotel, the Ghost Mountain Lodge was a peaceful place set in beautiful gardens in the little town of Mikuze. It is run by a dynamic lady named Jean. She took command of our group as soon as we arrived and ensured we were settled in comfortably. I owe her a debt iof gratitude as she went out of her way to arrange a doctor’s appointment for me so I coulld get some medication for a severe cold and an infected eye. Jean drove me downn to the clinic and picked me up again afterwards.
We had a fairly tight program for the day of our stay in Mikuze
with a morning boat trip ad an afternoon visit to a Zulu village. The hotel provided these activities and we were transported in their safari vehicles. I think we will see some more of these later in our trip.
Our morning boat expedition took place on a large dam that was constructed to provide irrigation for the sugar fields. Just outside the gates of our hotel was a railway siding where sugar cane was loaded onto railway wagons for transport to the mill about 75 kms away. Each time we went out of the gate, we were assailed with a smell like ‘essence of sugar cane’ – something like a sweet molasses type of smell.
We toured the lake for a couple of hours finding lots of birds that I can’t name and a good number of hippopotamus. These would move into the water as we approached and then submerge and surface agin to check out whether, or not, we were a threat. One approached us with s big hippo yawn which is actually a sign of aggression. Unfortunately I had my camera lens zoomed right out and was not able to adjjust it in time. All I got was a great photo of the hippo’s tonsils.
We were back at the hotel for lunch and then in the afternoon, we drove uphill towards ghost mountain to a village set in some tribal homelands. These are different from townships where the black people liveby a town. Home Lands in South Africa are established areas of tribal ownership where people can live in their own cultural environment..
We visited the Zulu homestead of a man named Justice. He lived with his 84 year old father and unmarried sisters. Each had a small ‘house’ on the property. Justice was very open in telling us bout his life an d that of his family. He had a girlfriend an was just about to have his brother negotiated the price of a dowry with her family prior to asking her to marry him. The going price for an ordinary woman is eleven cows although that might rise to as much as fifteen if the girl is the daughter off a chief. When a woman marries, she leaves the family home to live with her husband and his family. There., she needs his permission to go out or visit her family. After all, her husband did pay 11 cows for her!
Children go to school up until the age of fourteen. Men can have a number of wives (depending on how many cows they can acumulate).
Every family has a circular thatched building called the ’spirit house’. In them, men will light a small fire to create smoke so that they are connected through it to their ancestors. They can then ‘talk’ to them about important events. Problems occur in Zulu society when ancestors are not consulted on important matters such as marriage, career decisions and family issues. I guess that this buuilding serves as a type pf ‘prayer room’.
We were interested to see that the roof of the spirit house was topped with an old car tyre. We asked Justice why it was there and he explained that when you are in a car in a thunder storm, you are protected against lightning by the car tyres and you are safe. The tyre on the roof therefore protects the spirit house from lightning in a similar way. Sounds like good logic to me!
On leaving the village, one member of our gtroup asked Justice whether he was happy with his life. Justice replied that he was very happy and couldn’t think of anything that he would like to change.