A Zulu festival for new life


Real life experiences are those moments when you suddenly become aware that you are taking part in something fantastic. Those “wow – this is incredible” events that turns an OK trip into an extraordinary adventure. It was one of those very moments that caught Pat Venning by surprise when she happened upon a family festival in South Africa, but luckily (or not) her partner made sure the night was preserved for perpituity…

“Come sit my friends”, beckoned the tall man resplendent in leopard skin and wielding a rather large shield. “We are celebrating the birth of my first-born son and would be honoured if you would join us.”

“Gladly, we are indeed honoured. Thank you.”

We joined the beaming relatives and were handed a bowl of their traditional pap and meat (a stiff white porridge used to scoop up the hot, tasty beef stew in one’s fingers), washed down with a shared bowl of local brew.

So there I was, gently subsiding in a dreamy haze, lulled by the combination of a huge yellow rising moon, dust kicked up by the lithe young dancers, rhythmic drums and hand clapping, and a cup of something very potent in my hands.

I knew I was in trouble when I suddenly became aware of the young man in front of me politely asking if I would please accompany him.

My heart sank. I am renowned for my lack of rhythm. Nonetheless I felt obliged, so helped by my partners push from behind, up I got -somewhat unsteadily – to join in the energetic round of twirls, high kicks and low jumps.

What I didn’t know was that my awfully-relieved-it-wasn’t-him partner had remembered, and surreptitiously brought out, the video camera.

The next morning, still in somewhat of a haze, I awoke to the sound of raucous laughter. Yhere was the whole village, being happily entertained by my display of gawky, ungainly and graceless dancing!”

Got your own festival real life experience that you’d like to remember (or forget)? Tell us your travel tales and we look forward to sharing them on this blog.

* photo by Amy Irwin – Intrepid Photography Competition

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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