March 15 – Manzini, Swaziland
Today we had the opportunity to immerse ourselves into the history and culture of the people of Swaziland. We visited the Mantenga Cultural Village and Nature Preserve which is located just outside of Manzini, Swaziland. Today is our last day in the country. Tomorrow we head south to Lesotho (produced lay-soot-two).
We had a late start this AM which was GRAND. We’ve been having pretty busy days, so the fact that we didn’t leave until after 9 AM was surely a treat. It was about a 30 minute trip to get the Nature Preserve. Once we were through the entrance, we had a bit of a drive on a dirt road back through the Preserve. We pulled up to a small dirt parking lot and were met with our guide, who was dressed in traditional Swazi garb. He took us around to the entrance of the historical village and our tour began.
I got a lot of his talk on tape, which I will be culling and putting together in a video when I get home. For the most part, I found their heritage to be very similar to that of the Native American’s a few hundred years go. Our guide talked a lot about the women in Swazi culture, mostly because I think he liked getting a rise out the majority of our group. Here, more than one wife was common. Although, the man had to be able to prove he could afford more than one. In almost all cases, wives long survived their husbands because by the time the men could afford a wife, they were in their 30’s. Women were usually ‘bought’ in their teens. 17 cattle was the average price for a virgin. However, if there was a young lady who was not a virgin, the man was allowed to negotiate with the family for a lower price. We had one girl in our group that was offered 12 cattle for marriage – which now we all find somewhat amusing ;)
We had a chance to see inside some of the huts, which was neat. They were extremely cool inside, which we weren’t expecting. The reed grass that they use to make them held out the heat. They also could have fires inside the huts and it would simply permeate out through the reed grass walls. It was really crazy! You’d think they would burn, but they don’t!
After we saw the village we experienced some of the cultural dances they have. Some were to do with marriage ceremonies, others with harvest, etc. They made the neatest noises, it wasn’t just singing! Clicking and whistling was in almost every song and it really added to it. I got a lot of that on video too; it’s hard to really explain how neat it was!
Lunch was with the village as well, they served us a buffet style lunch. We had people actually standing around us to keep the monkeys away! At first we all thought that was silly, but at one point a monkey ran across the dinner area, grabbed a piece of bread, and had to be chased away! Cheeky monkey indeed ;)
My favorite part of the day was next. We walked about half a mile up the side of a mountain to see a waterfall! Whoo waterfalls! It was absolutely gorgeous. We didn’t have time to get really close to it, but I was happy non-the-less. We also found a lot of native Lantana and Ageratum on the walk, which was neat.
(We got the actual jump to show in someone else’s camera. I’m surprised we didn’t all fall in, the ground was really uneven and we were right next to the water! Fun times with us Hort students. Good to know the current crop of hort students at Andrews are just as crazy as they were when I was there ;))
Then we spent a little bit of time shopping at a local handicraft center before heading back to our lodging. Tomorrow we head out bright and early to go to Lesotho!