Get a slice of the real Zulu king­dom

Vibey mar­ket of­fers au­then­tic Zulu cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ence, writes Clin­ton Moodley

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WE ARE driv­ing into Esikhaleni, a town­ship near Richards Bay, when we spot a colour­ful patch of land filled with lots of ac­tiv­ity.

Here stands a buzzing Satur­day mar­ket that gets the whole town walk­ing among its small ven­dor stalls, stock­ing up on fruit and veg­eta­bles, fish or adding some clothes to the wardrobe.

We get out of the our taxi to ex­plore this gem. Known as the Com­plex, the mar­ket is a huge draw­card for trav­ellers who want to get a slice of Africa when vis­it­ing the north­ern part of KwaZulu-Natal.

The fruit and veg­eta­bles stalls dis­play a choice of healthy items rang­ing from sweet pota­toes to ba­nanas and or­anges. Nearby is a Zulu art ven­dor sell­ing some beaded art­work and cloth­ing.

A man by the name of Oja Dav show­cases his lin­guis­tic skills by speak­ing Hindi and Nepali. He trav­els as far as In­dia and Nepal to buy In­dian clothes for his stall. He uses his lin­guis­tic skills to at­tract cus­tomers to his stall.

The fish mar­ket is also only a few me­tres away, with woman plac­ing their se­lec­tion of fish – brean, cat­fish and grunter – on small ta­bles cov­ered with news­pa­pers.

The women go to Cwebeni to catch fresh fish. There are some stalls which also cook the fish for peck­ish mar­ket go­ers.

The mar­ket is bustling with ac­tiv­ity, with women hav­ing their nails done in lit­tle gaze­bos while the men sam­ple some fresh corn that is cooked on an out­side fire.

Esikhaleni is a town­ship worth vis­it­ing. And if you wor­ried about safety, the lo­cal po­lice has your back. Ac­cord­ing to Hlengiwe Ntanzi, tour or­gan­is­ers part­ner with po­lice so that tourists are safe when they visit.

Ntanzi, who owns a tav­ern in the area, said that Esikhaleni is a unique of­fer­ing that all peo­ple should ex­pe­ri­ence.

“There are great sto­ries about our town­ship wait­ing to be told. Tours usu­ally take an hour, fol­lowed by a shisa nyama at a lo­cal spot. Dur­ing the jour­ney trav­ellers get to see and hear about our he­roes, the mon­u­ments and sto­ries that make this place spe­cial,” she said.

For­merly a rice plan­ta­tion, the town­ship was born in the early 1970s – with the first house built in 1975.

Ntanzi talks about Cubhu Lake. There are sto­ries about Shembe church fol­low­ers who stopped a crocodile from eat­ing a per­son at the lake.

She said their faith was so strong they de­manded the crocodile not harm the per­son, and it obeyed. Since then, no per­son has been harmed by a crocodile there.

Other at­trac­tions in­clude mon­u­ments to the Zulu king Cetshwayo kaM­pande, who ruled from 1873 to 1879, and

Musa Dladla, a free­dom stal­wart. Esikhaleni Beach is a fun day out­ing.

Shisa nyama joints are quite pop­u­lar and there are many to choose from. Du­mile’s Busy Cor­ner is one of the newer ones, hav­ing started in April. The owner, Du­mile Chonco, re­signed as a nurse and started by sell­ing fries and wors, but now caters to her client’s in­di­vid­ual needs.

Her sig­na­ture dishes are Zulu chicken, jeqe, spinach and ox head.

She be­lieves in up­lift­ing her com­mu­nity, form­ing a jazz club and giv­ing emerg­ing artists a chance to per­form over week­ends.

“I re­mem­ber go­ing to Vi­lakazi Street and want­ing to have a place like the spots I saw there. We are about the food and show­ing peo­ple a good time,” she said.

A visit can be done in a day, but a sleep­over at one of the B&Bs is highly rec­om­mended.

Shisa nyama

Zulu dancers en­ter­tain guests at Du­mile’s Busy Cor­ner, a new joint in Richards Bay. Pic­tures: Leon Lestrade/ANA

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