Get a slice of the real Zulu kingdom
Vibey market offers authentic Zulu cultural experience, writes Clinton Moodley
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.
Zulu dancers entertain guests at Dumile’s Busy Corner, a new joint in Richards Bay. Pictures: Leon Lestrade/ANA