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About Khetiwe


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To see indigenous art in each country.

To see traditional dress in each country.

To taste traditional food in each country.

To learn how greet in each country.

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Travelog for: Khetiwe

Johannesburg , South Africa - 3rd September 2008

By: MrsC

Lotjhani! Hello!

I am Khetiwe, I am a member of the isiNdebele tribe of South Africa.


I am so excited to be traveling out into the world to see other cultures, but before I start, I'd like to tell you a bit about my tribe.

* Posted Sep 3, 2008, 2:37 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Johannesburg, South Africa - 3rd September 2008

By: MrsC

Now, Jo'burg is a little far from where I come from so I am going to show you pictures from this book...


My people have a long history in this country. We originally broke off from the Nguni (Zulu speaking) people in Kwa Zulu Natal and moved further inland to the Northern part of South Africa (we are also known as the Southern Ndebele, as a further group broke off from us and moved further North into Zimbabwe)

The orange square on this map shows the geographical area where we isNdebele are to be found - to the North of Pretoria in the Northern Province (now known as Limpopo). Johannesburg is in the extreme bottom left.


South Africa has eleven official languages. Ndebele, spoken by 2% of the population, is the smallest of the indigenous languages. But as it is an Nguni language it is understood by many other people, most notably the isiZulu, isiXhosa and siSwati.

Although the languages may be similar you will never mistake an Ndebele for any other tribe once you see them!

We isiNdebele are very well known for our artistic abilities. Our houses are decorated with very distinct geometric patterns. These are painted freehand, with no previous thought out plans. Only the women do art work.

Usually, only the front of the house is colourfully decorated, as this is the first view a visitor will see. Windows and doorways are of particular importance to us.


The back and the side walls are plastered with cow dung and patterns made by scratching fingers through it. This is known as kghuphu but is also called 'tyre tracks'!


Sometimes the interior of the house is also decorated. It is hard to tell in this picture, but the seating is incorporated into the wall, it is a ledge that goes round the house. The 'cupboards' are also built into the wall.


Meals are cooked outside in a large three legged pot over a fire. Our staple diet is a maize (corn) meal porridge called iphutu. Sometimes we add meat and vegetables to it.


We have a very distinct traditional costume - a very colourful one!

Most Ndebele men wear westernized clothing, but when they do wear traditional dress it is very plain and simple. We women on the other hand, are very proud of our beautiful colourful appearance and our clothing indicates both age and social standing.


Little girls wear an apron made of thick cords, as they get older the aprons become larger until they are of a marriageable age. We then undergo an initiation ceremony and our dress changes completely.

The initiation process (iqhude)is as follows:
It starts at full moon, the girl is removed from her home, stripped naked and her hair and eyebrows are shaved off and she is placed in seclusion for a month (traditionally - 3 months, but this is no longer practical.) She is looked after by the older women of the community and taught to be a home maker and matriarch.

At the end of this period, there is a 'coming out' ceremony, with much celebration. The girls wear a lot of thick beaded bracelets around their arms, waists and legs and a stiff beaded apron that their mothers have made for them.


It is unusual for unmarried women to cover their breasts, but sometimes they wear a decorated breastplate.


Once a woman has been chosen as a bride there are a lot of complicated arrangements made between the two families and the bride- to- be wears outfits that symbolise these arrangements. She is only married after the birth of the first child.

The mother of the groom gets to wear a linga koba or 'long tears' The beads of the head dress symbolise her joy at his return from initiation (which is quite gruelling and includes circumcision) and her sorrow at losing him as a child.


Once married, we cover our breasts with a blanket around our shoulders and wear Isigolwani (a thick heavy loop of twisted grass that is beaded) or dzilla (a copper or brass ring). Both are worn around the neck and sometimes on arms and legs.

The dzilla are ONLY worn by married women, and they are given to us by our husbands. Superstition does not allow the rings to be removed, as it may incur the wrath of the ancestors.

We Ndebele are polygamous. The man can take as many wives as he can afford. The first wife lives in the largest main house. Each successive wife gets a smaller inter leading house. The husband not only rules over all the wives and children, but also any wives and children of his sons that live under his roof too. Once he dies, he STILL rules as an ancestor!

If we ever get sick, we go to see either an nyanga or a sangoma. We believe that illness is not only physical but that it has a spiritual or mental dimension that only a medicine man or woman can divine.

The isiNyanga are herbalists and are exclusively male. They wear necklaces which have magic powers and charms.


The iZangoma are mostly women, they throw and interpret bones to communicate with the ancestors, they may also use herbal remedies.


We Ndebele are synonymous with beadwork. Colourful glass beads replaced our original beads when the Europeans first settled here and traded with us. Lately, with the increase of poverty we have turned to using plastic beads. We also reuse beads from older items that are no longer needed.


Here you can see the traditional beaded goat skin apron of an Ndebele child, a traditional fertility symbol, just behind me is a traditional doll and to the left are some more modern Ndebele dolls - not quite as cute as me!


Another craft we are famous for, but which is sadly a dying art, is weaving. We make mats from dried grass and weave intricate coloured patterns into them to express our creativity. Traditionally these mats were used for sleeping on but we now use beds like everybody else.


The isigolwani that we wear are also made from dried grass. It is quite a process. The grass is wound into a thick hoop that is then bound with strong cotton. Strings of beads are threaded on, one tiny bead at a time, and then wound around the hoop. It is the placed in a pot of boiling sugar water, which causes it to harden from the inside. It is then soaked in a syrup and left in the sun (but turned regularly) for two days. They are then washed and are ready to be worn.


And there you have it, all about me and my fellow isiNdebele.

* Posted Sep 3, 2008, 5:19 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Museum Africa, South Africa - 4th September 2008

By: MrsC

I joined the other TVs on a visit to this Museum but the only thing that interested me there were the few items of Ndebele art on display.


Here is the beaded skirt of a young maiden who has undergone initiation.


Here is another beaded apron ( a very old one) and a few items of jewellery.


Just outside of the museum, are a few curio shops. We went into one and found this beautiful display of Ndebele dolls. Can you spot me? Didn't think so! I am at the front on the extreme right.


Here are close ups of the two larger dolls so you can see the detail.



Close to the museum is the tourist information centre, so we went in to get some information brochures.

I got to meet Madiba (the local nickname for Nelson Mandela), my hero, he is not an Ndebele, but that is okay with me.


The South African flag is as colourful as me!


I found some more of my fellow tribe’s people, and an Ndebele pot...


* Posted Sep 9, 2008, 11:39 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Post Office, South Africa - 9th September 2008

By: MrsC

Today I am going to be posted off to JaymeC in Okinawa, Japan. I can't wait to meet her and her family. I just hope I make the long journey via the USA without incident.


* Posted Sep 9, 2008, 11:43 pm Last edited Sep 9, 2008, 11:47 pm by MrsC [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Okinawa, Japan - 22nd September 2008

By: JaymeC

My envelope was opened and I got to meet my new host, Jayme. She said we were on the island of Okinawa in Japan. Though Okinawa used to be an independent nation it has been conquered by many different people. The latest in the early 1900's by Japan. Since then it has remained a Japanese prefecture. Today she said we're taking a very special trip to learn about the island's history, but we have to prepare our meals first.

So we made bento boxes, these are toddler sized ones for her two children.

You can see they stack up to be carried easily.

I also had to do some that were larger for the adults.


Traditionally bentos has rice in them instead of crackers, but Jayme said we were in a bit of a hurry and she didn't have any cooked rice. Darn. But our preparations done, we were able to get on our way..

This very beautiful coast line is found at the edge of the Okinawa Peace Memorial Park.

Okinawa was caught in the middle of World War II's Battle of Okinawa.  During the battle Okinawa's large civilian population could not escape. Because of this they suffered many, many casualties. As a remembrance of this battle and the loss suffered, the Peace Memorial Park was put into place. There are many smaller memorials throughout the grounds as well as a cemetary, but you are not to take pictures of Okinawan tombs without the permission of the family.  We could take pictures of some of the Memorials though.

The most beautiful and sad part of the park is over this small bridge here.

In here are walls... so many rows of walls! With over 200,000 names inscribed into them of those who lost their lives during the Battle of Okinawa. Most of them were civilians, but there are also military from Japan, the United States, and Great Britain inscribed here. It is a very sad and amazingly beautiful site.

What an amazing place to visit and learn about! After our visit we headed home, but the children had been so well that we decided to stop half way to let them play a bit.

What an exhausting day... time to head home and take a little break!

Write more soon,

* Posted Sep 22, 2008, 3:28 am Last edited Dec 13, 2008, 10:30 pm by JaymeC [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Kadena Air Base, Japan - 26th September 2008

By: JaymeC

Jayme says her lifestyle is rather odd because she's caught between two worlds right now. On one side you have the Okinawan/Japanese world and on the other the US military bases. Today we had to visit the largest base on island, Kadena Air Base. There isn't much to see there, but they do have one special area that is a park with retired planes from the 1950's onward.

Very neat. Maybe I'll get to see more of the bases sometime as well.

Write more soon,

* Posted Sep 26, 2008, 6:25 am [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Okinawa, Japan - 29th September 2008

By: JaymeC

Today we went to a neat place that's supposed to teach us more about Okinawan heritage. Its called Murasaki Mura. Here we are outside the front entrance.

Inside all the streets were old stone roads.

There were many things to see. Do you see how small we are next to this whale shark?

And here's a traditional Okinawan Building.

Here's another building

The lion/dogs you saw us with at the entrance are called Shisa. They always come in a pair, male and female. The male has its mouth closed to catch any bad spirits and the female has her mouth open to let the good spirits through. There were lots and lots of neat Shisa's here.




You could even paint your own! We didn't paint, but we watched Jayme's son paint.

And on the way out we found this neat prism thing were you could take your picture.

Write more soon,

* Posted Sep 29, 2008, 4:56 am [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Okinawa, Japan - 1st October 2008

By: JaymeC

Today we decided to take a break and do something fun instead of educational :) To that end, we headed to Comprehensive Park. Comprehensive Park is near where Jayme lives and is the biggest park on the island! There's lots to do there. Our goal today was the fish pond. Once we got there, we paid for our tickets and got into the paddle boat! They didn't have life jackets to fit us, so we had to hold on tight...

Here's a better view of the bridge from this side.

Ohh and here's a box of fish food!

The fish followed our boat all through the water.

And we got to see some ducks too!

We headed back under the bridge towards the boat docking area.

And a little turtle came to visit

Finally we docked the boat then went to the playground for a bit to run off some energy.

And then headed home! Write about our next adventure soon,

* Posted Sep 30, 2008, 11:53 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Okinawa, Japan - 6th October 2008

By: JaymeC

Today was a busy day! We had to run a few errands. First we had to stop by the post office of course.

From there we had to stop by one of the small stores on base.

While we were walking a helicopter went overhead, there certainly are a lot around here!

After errands we headed back to a different part of Comprehensive Park

There was a different playground here

Plenty of room for playing ball

As well as a neat memorial statue

A little further along there was a place to stop and rest under a giant seashell

It was right next to the ocean. The tide was out, when its in you can't see any of the rocks!

Write more soon,

* Posted Oct 6, 2008, 4:55 am [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Okinawa, Japan - 9th October 2008

By: JaymeC

Well we were sitting around the house being a little bored so we did a puzzle (okay, Jayme's husband helped some!)

Then did some Halloween Decorating

And then found out we were going to a place called the Nakamura House. It was built in the 1400's and is a traditional home from that era on Okinawa.
Here I am in front of one of the sleeping rooms. There were many sleeping rooms, and one family slept in each.

And here's the storage room

This is a family room

You can kind of see the ceiling in this photo

Here's the kitchen area

And the horse stables

As well as pigpens

This used to be a well, but it was filled up and flowers were planted

And here's some of the many stairs around

And finally here's one of a few Shisa in the home

It was a very neat, though very small for so many families!

Write more soon,

* Posted Oct 9, 2008, 3:25 am [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Okinawa, Japan - 12th October 2008

By: JaymeC

Today we took a very neat trip to a place called Okinawa World. Our trip started off in a cave, where we were supposed to be quiet...



This is a waterfall




It was a long walk! When it was all through we stopped for lunch and a walk through the village area. They had an area where glass was being made

We also got to look down at a brewery

Finally we got to the exit and the Eisa Dancers. Eisa is a traditional dance to Okinawa. It was a very neat show to see!


You can see a video example of Eisa Dancing here: Eisa

More adventures soon!


* Posted Oct 11, 2008, 11:20 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Okinawa, Japan - 21st October 2008

By: JaymeC

Today we went to a place called the Pineapple Park. After we paid for our tickets we went and got into a pineapple cart.

Here's the inside of the cart

We got to see many small pineapples growing

And lots of other plants related to pineapples


When we were done in the cart we went inside to a small seashell museum

And from there went to the pineapple store, which even had pineapple wine!

We took some wine and went to relax on the beach after our fun day out

Write more soon,

* Posted Oct 21, 2008, 2:42 am [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Okinawa, Japan - 23rd October 2008

By: JaymeC

Today we went to a place called the Shinikean Gardens. It was very beautiful! Its been inscribed by the World Heritage Organization as an important historic spot. It was the Imperial Gardens for the Ryukyu Kingdom back before Okinawa became a part of Japan.

The first thing we saw when we went in was the guard house.

Then we had to walk down a little pathway through a forest.
Where we had to pause to examine a snail.

After that we got our first view of the rest home here, it was quite large for that time in history.

Unfortunately there wasn't much to see inside besides the set up of the home, but we took a few pictures anyways.

Looking outside you could see the beautiful water, and a rock bridge.

There was also another small rest house.

This picture is quite funny in a way. Okinawa is quite a small island! However, the Ryukyu Kings did not want their adversaries to know how small it was, so when they came to visit they brought them to this place to show them the outlay of the land and how large it was. Its one of the very few spots on Okinawa where you can see no water! I haven't seen another spot on Okinawa up high where you can't see water actually.

Write more soon,

* Posted Oct 22, 2008, 10:23 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Okinawa, Japan - 29th October 2008

By: JaymeC

Jayme has been very busy lately, but we were able to sneak away for a  bit of a break at the beach. First we sat down to have a bento, but what a beautiful view!

Then we went out to explore the seashells and coral on the beach. There was lots of it!

We found this nice big rock, too bad we can't take it home it makes a great chair!

The water is so pretty here!

And its very, very clear water today

Do you see the big ship in the back?

Write more soon,

* Posted Oct 28, 2008, 10:30 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Okinawa, Japan - 30th October 2008

By: JaymeC

I know our trip to the beach didn't make it seem very October like, but it IS almost Halloween! So today we celebrated. First... we decided to carve a pumpkin. Its rather large.

Jayme cut and opened the top for us (she didn't want us ot hurt ourselves) and we got the job of digging out all the goo inside. She said some people make pumpkin pie with it, but she's not Marth Stewart enough.

Eventually we got them all cleaned out and here we are after the carving is all done!

We put a candle in them and turned out the lights and...

After we were done with pumpkins we went to go 'trunk-or-treating'. Its a festival that's only done on the base Jayme lives on and people decorate their trunks and you trick-or-treat there. It was lots of fun, but we had to help keep the kids contained so we couldn't pose for pictures :(




Tomorrow Jayme said we're going trick-or-treating and hopefully we can get some better pictures then!

Write more soon!

* Posted Oct 30, 2008, 10:21 am [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

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