Mdantsane is a unique, vibrating, eclectic, African place. Follow us on a pilgrimage to Mdantsane to discover the street culture, fashion, food, people, music, homes, taverns, humor, businesses, history and what's hot in the second biggest township in South-Africa, located close to the city of East London in the Province of the Eastern Cape. Join us on this journey while we capture the spirit of this amazing place for you in the here and in the now. We are going to introduce you to many individuals, artists, musicians, groups and associations.
They are the HEROES OF DAILY LIFE. They are the people who create, innovate and improve their life and their stories deserve to be told. This is a place for only good and positive stories of humanity, that will send out a message of courage, endurance and strength to the world through their pictures and words.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Xhosa Culture - A Grandfather Looks Back

The Xhosa Culture is a structure, that gives you a firm stand in life

A couple of weeks ago I had a conversation with a Xhosa Elder in Mdantsane. The conversation with the old man, who did not want his name mentioned or his picture to appear on our site (he said, he is too old for something like this) lasted nearly three hours, and was of an openness and spirituality that I have seldom experienced with a complete stranger.
The grandfather's words - as I call him - were simple but full of deep meaning and wisdom. He was not shy of talking. He was approachable. 

"Whatever I say and you want to write, you can write. How would I know in anyway what you write?", he said to me.

Nothing like the talk of the politicians, that we hear on TV everyday in the news, talk that last for minutes without saying or meaning something. Anyway, that is not what I wanted to talk about today.

I did not take notes or record the conversation, it was entirely unexpected and to recapitulate it and to bring his words to these pages is not easy, but so worth it. 
Our rituals involve a certain simplicity but demand strict respect.

The grandfather - my conversational partner was in his eighties and has experienced "a whole lotta life". Some of us can only wish for that.

"The Xhosa Culture", he said and looked at me, "is a thing, that is easy to explain. Don't let anyone tell you, that it is difficult to describe our way of life! It is not! At least the Xhosa Culture, that I know, that I was taught by my parents and that I grew up with is an easy thing."

"Why is it so easy?"

"Because everything is defined, it is a structure, it is a structure like an old mat woven with great skill according to a pattern that has evolved over centuries, that gives you direction and a firm stand in life. The rules and regulations, our Xhosa costumes are like the arms that embrace you during your whole life as a Xhosa man or woman.  
If you followed, what you have been taught, the knowledge your parents handed down to you, you could not fail in life. Because this knowledge made once sense in our environment and in our heritage."

The knowledge that was handed down from our parents made sense in our environment and in our heritage

What are the things you remember from your childhood, let me say the memories that got etched in your mind? By the way, how come you speak so well English? For such and old grandfather, I mean?

I wanted to learn the white man's language. To speak another person's language gives you power.
As a child I remember, that each homestead was an economic unit with its own land. My father was the head of the home, a role that he took incredibly serious, that was his life. My father had several wives and his wealth, the richness of our family was measured in cattle. Problems in the village or in the area were solved at the Chief's council. As a boy I was sometimes allowed to watch the men from a distance.
This was our system, this is what I saw everyday and it was the way it had to be. This was so full of sense to me at the time.

Each homestead was an economic unit

And later?

There are different phases in your life and of cause each one comes with a responsibility. I was a boy then, and life did not pose too many challenges. There was a lot of piece in my father's homestead except for some of the wives quarreling. But this was a problem my father was able to solve with ease.
Then I grew up and became a man,  I had many own children. I became a father.

But your life did not repeat itself in the same way like your father's life did, right?

Yes that is true, my life was very different than that of my father and my grandfather. When I was a parent myself I experienced 40 years of Apartheid when Xhosa speaking tribes became confined to the homelands and then to the independent states of the Transkei and Ciskei. 
The chiefs became administrators for the White government. But the areas designated for the Xhosa people could not really support all the people living there. Like many other men of my generation I became a migrant worker, seeking work in the city and coming home to his family once a year for vacation. This was a drastic difference between my father's life and my life.
The absence of a man from his family for an extended period of time always changes things for the good. A man who is not present can not rule, harmonize or solve the affairs and problems of his family. He will be a migrant in life as well.

Now, that your life was so different from your fathers life did you still stick with the costumes of your Xhosa culture, your system, that you call the structure and that gives a man a firm stand in life?

Oh yes, I did. I tried. That was what allowed me to keep my family together and to live in the spirit of my forefathers. Many other choose not to do so, or may be it was an involuntary process for them. When people give up their traditions it is not always a conscious thing. But for me I tried for follow in my father's footsteps. But I did not make everybody happy of cause.

What do you mean by that?

My children, some of my children revolutionized against me.( he laughed)

Are all your children still alive?

I had nine children. I still have five. Four are late. My children have children now. Am a grandfather and great grandfather.

Today, how is your life today as a grandfather and Xhosa elder?

I am an old man who has a long life behind him. The concept of the Elders is fading away. I am not sure if I am an elder. I am just an old man. It is a long while since somebody has asked me for advice or considered my opinion as important for his decisions. In fact this talk with you is the longest talk I had in a while.

But as a grandfather could you not pass on knowledge of the olden days to your children and grandchildren?

As a grandfather I lived actually through astonishing times. When I was an old man, I was allowed to vote for the first time in 1994 when South Africa became a democratic country thanks to Nelson Mandela and his fellows.  
The new South Africa is something that made me wonder. It was a good feeling and I really did not believe that the rulers of the country would still change. I have been used to the Apartheid system for so many years, that it seemed unlikely anything else would still appear in my life time. But you have to learn freedom as well. 

I have been used to the Apartheid system for so many years, that it seemed unlikely anything else would still appear in my life time. But you have to learn freedom as well.
Is life now more easier and more just for you in the new South Africa? And other old people?

No, not easier, Democracy brought new opportunities and freedom for all the people in South Africa. Some of us did experience better living conditions. But many still fight a battle for survival. You are only really free when you are free of worries that concern your survival.
I do live from a grant that the government gives me. And sometimes some of my children bring money and food. But some of them also ask me for money. 

Some experienced better living conditions in South Africa

Can we talk about the costumes of the Xhosa culture, that make up the structure you talked about. What costumes you think are the most important ones?

Of cause the rituals. 
But it is difficult to say which ones are the most important ones. The rituals "Isisiko" take place in every Xhosa household at moments that are important for the family. You know that. Still today it is like that. Usually this involves the slaughter of an ox or a goat in the kraal. Traditional beer is served to the guests.
Our rituals involve a certain simplicity but demand strict respect. If you forget or not commemorate a ritual when it should have been done, it will hinder or block you in your advancement to the next step in your life.
Like Abakwetha -the initiation of our young boys into men.

Is the ritual of Abakwetha still practised in the same way as when you were young?

You see this question people talk a lot about, also around me there are discussions. You can never say for sure because you only do this once. So what has changed since my time I do not know.But I know there was no alcohol involved in the bush shelters. We were told about manhood and adulthood and the manners you have to follow.
We did not eat meat and for sure we did not see a woman's face for the entire time.
I do not want to say what is wrong today but I have seen initates that were drunk. This in itself is a shame and an insult to the ritual. 

What does the future hold for the young? 

I do not want to be young again today. No matter under what rule you are born in your life there will be a certain amount of suffering and it is up to you if you take up the fight against it. But it helps if you know where you want to go to. It helps if you can imagine the course of your life. Many young ones can not.

Democracy brought new opportunities and freedom for all the people in South Africa. Some of us did experience better living conditions. But many still fight a battle for survival. You are only really free when you are free of worries that concern your survival.
And what does a future hold for a young woman in the Xhosa culture? Will she still be eager to marry young?

According to our traditions we do not marry members of our patent's or grandparent's clan's and tribes. Traditionally the bride moves to the groom's family. It is costum to seal the contract with the lobola, which is the bride price. A certain number of cattle is transferred from the groom's family to the bride's family. The number is negotiable. But today often money is paid instead. Young women do not like to be in polygamous relationships anymore and the wedding is conducted at the church. Sure there is a traditional wedding as well but the Xhosa people have definitely taken over Western costumes.  
Many women move to the city to find a job and marriage is not their first priority anymore. Life is like that, if there are other options you will consider them.

If there are other options you will consider them....

In my time a girl enhanced her beauty by beadwork but I do think this has also changed a lot.

In my time a girl enhanced her beauty by bead work but I think a lot has changed old image of a Zulu girl

Friday, November 1, 2013

Singing The Gospel - Mdantsane's Born And Bred Star Khanyisa Sabuka Nkantsu

We are proud to introduce you today to Gospel star-Khanyisa Sabuka Nkantsu because Khanyisa can not only sing but she is an impressive lady and a genuine Mdantsane product!
The article was written by a 2nd year WSU journalism student Annelisa Nkqubezelo.
Eastern Cape based gospel star Khanyisa Sabuka Nkantsu, born and bred in Mdantsane, continues inspiring many through her music. She now holds an honorary doctorate in music which she received from a Durban- based Bible College.
“As an artist it is very rewarding to know that people recognise your work and appreciate it.

I was very happy to receive this honour and this has motivated me to continue doing the best for my fans,” she said.
Her singing career began 35 years ago, at the age of seven. She sang in school choirs and dedicated her musical talent to the church. She is now one of the top gospel stars in the province.
Her career blossomed in 1995 when she became the lead vocalist of the once popular group Youth with Mission.
She went on achieving popularity across the country. She recorded her first solo album in 2003. She has now seven albums to her credit and has sold over 250 000 copies. She is a born again Christian who sings not only to entertain but to preach the gospel as well.

Mdantsane born and bred Gosperl Star
Khanyisa Nkantsu on stage – she is more than a gospel star. She is also a composer, a producer, an artist, a wife, a mother, a government employee and holds an honorary doctorate in music by a Durban-based Bible College. Image Anele Sabane

Besides her musical career she works in the Department of Social Development as a chief social worker. She graduated at Fort Hare University with social work honors. She continues to follow after her name “Khanyisa” which means bringing light. She brings hope to other people’s lives and lends a helping hand to local charities.
“I have been doing this job for the past 16 years and it is so rewarding to see a person smile just after you have finalised their social-grant application,” she said.
She lends a helping hand to local charities and has started a project where she visitsorphanage homes and delivers groceries. Khanyisa believes that God has blessed her to be a blessing to others.

For Khanyisa the road to the top has not been easy but she admits that her faith has kept her going. “Along the way I have met people who tried to discourage me but through believing in God I have been able to overcome all challenges,” she said.

Khanyisa comes from a religious background and both her parents are born-again Christians.
Her mother is the founder of the gospel group Christ Ambassadors. She has recorded her albums at YWB productions under the management of her brother Mzi Nkantsu.

Her brother Mzi Nkantsu said: “Khanyisa is a God-fearing woman; she is firm and stands for what she believes in. She is very involved in her ministry and her strong attitude helps her to have breakthroughs in life.”

Khanyisa is a composer, a producer, an artist, a wife, a mother and just an ordinary government employee. Regardless of her busy life she manages to create time for her family and ministers to her church and community.

She continues delivering the best for her fans. Her latest album “Amandla Ovuko”, which means power of resurrection, has been well received by her fans.
Her fan Xoliswa Gubela said: “When I feel down and need upliftment, I sing along and dance to her music as it revives my spirit. I can’t wait for another album. She is one of my favourite local artists who makes me love Gospel music even more.” – WSU-SNA

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Significance Of Tattoos In The Xhosa Culture And Their Relation To Religion

In today's article we are sharing a young South African's view on tattoos and their meaning in the Xhosa culture.
Zintle Swana is a 2nd year Walter Sisulu University journalism student and has done some research  concerning the connection between tattoos and religion and the different views people have on this matter.

The connection between tattoos and religion has been a disputed matter for a long time. Some say tattoos are a barrier between the human spirit and God or the Ancestors, while some do not share the same sentiments.

Image from Most Wanted Fashion " Tattooing In Africa" by Muhammad Farhan Ali

The Bible says “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on your selves. I am your Lord” (Leviticus chapter 19 verse 28). 
Tattoos are believed to be a contradiction to what the Bible says according to believers, and the Bible is the base of their Christianity.

The Ladies of God Committee from the Jehovah’s Kingdom Church in East London said: “Tattoos are walls that block a human from connecting with God spiritually because your body is God’s temple as one is made in his image. Tattoos are ungodly, they’re associated with Satanism and evil spirits, and it is disrespectful to God directly as he is the creator.”

Image from Most Wanted Fashion " Tattooing in Africa" by Muhammad Farhan Ali

According to the Design Boom website on the history of tattoos, the word tattoo is said to have two major derivations: from the Polynesian word ‘ta’ which means ‘striking something’ and the Tahitian word ‘tatau’ which means ‘to mark something’ and it is just ink beneath the skin.
In the Xhosa history, tattoos were called ‘imihombiso’ which means body decorations.

A 53-year-old Xhosa elder Monwabisi Mvava said: “These decorations were done 100 years ago when young women did not make use of clothing but imihombiso. This was done with no artificial inks but metal and traditional syrups to heal wounds.”

African Tattoos were traditional done using the technique of scarification, whereby a knife is used to create a design consisting of symbols. Ink, herbs and potions are rubbed into the cuts to heal the wounds and to create a distinct elevated pattern. 

A Xhosa traditional healer in East London, who did not want his identity known for personal reasons, believes that in the culture of isiXhosa tattoos are not acceptable as it upsets the ancestors because tattoos are a western fashion, so to the ancestors it is as if a person is drifting away from their roots.

Tribal symbol scarification on a young woman's body

A long-time tattoo artist and owner of a tattoo shop in Vincent Park in East London, Tony Botha, believes that tattoos have got nothing to do with satanic practice.
“To me a tattoo is something that you fantasize about for a long time before you do it, I live tattoos. To have a tattoo does not mean you are satanic, if I am evil for doing that then why do people decorate the temple at church and paint the windows with different colours?” said Tony.
Large Back Tattoo Source African Tattoo, tattoobite.com

“Hitler killed millions of people but he did not have a tattoo and to my understanding killing is the most satanic thing you would ever do.”
In some religions tattoos are not recognized as anything that could change the society in any way and are not known as a sin.

Large African Acacia Tree Tattoo On The Back Of A Caucasian Male,  Image Tattoobite.Com

Maggs Makhan said: “In my religion, Hinduism, tattoos really do not matter, whether or not you have them, it makes no difference. I believe it is a personal choice to have a tattoo and everyone has a personal reason why they have tattoos. There are those who hide them and there are those who reveal them. As humans we might not believe in the same thing but we cannot judge.”

Amateur tattoos are common among prisoners, sometimes done by gangsters for recognition.
But this is not where the story of tattoos began.

Tattoos are common amongst prisoners as a form of distinction but the origin of tattoos goes back hundreds of years,  Image South African Prison Tattoos by Most Wanted Fashion

Solethu Mavumengwana said: “A tattoo is something I have always wanted. I have seven stars on my arm representing my seven siblings, since I hardly spend time with them. There is more to a tattoo than just a fancy picture on the body; it is a dedication for a lifetime.
Religion does play a role in the view people hold about tattoos and that is what made me think deeply about what I want to do.” 

An African Woman's Face Tattoo On The Hip, Tattoobite.Com

He added: “I believe God knows our deepest intentions and my relationship with him is based upon values instilled in me by my parents and of my own understanding. If God is so forgiving and just, then why won’t he forgive me if this is such a bad thing? He accepts us with all our flaws.”- WSU-SNA

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Eating U-Smileys (Sheep head) in Fort Jackson - Different Cultures, Different Dishes

Today's article was written by the young volunteer Jonas Krombach and describes his culinary journey through the world of traditional Xhosa food. Here we go!
One of my reasons to do a voluntary year in another country was, that I wanted to get in contact with other cultures. Cultures I did not know before, such as the Xhosa-culture.
When I got the confirmation, that I would be going to Mdantsane for a year as a volunteer for a German Development organization to work with an environmental youth club at a local High School, I started to read about the Xhosa People on the Internet.
I learned quickly, that food plays a big role in the Xhosa culture, but also in general in South Africa.

Jonas Favourite Fat Cake With Liver Filling!!!

Well, I tried to find more information about typical Xhosa-dishes, but all I could find out was that the South Africans love to braai( barbecue) that they adore biltong( dried meat) and that there is Indian food as well, such as the Bunny Chow. 
But I found nothing about traditional Xhosa dishes such as Samp and Beans (Umngqusho), African Salad and Umfino - dishes that I know so well by now.

Theresa and Joans eating Umngusho, a traditional Xhosa Dish

Arriving in Mdantsane I settled down in my guest family’s home. 
When Nolubabalo, one of my guest mothers, said that she was going to cook something for dinner, I was excited and curious at the same time. I can still remember our first dinner. The whole family sat down together at the table and we ate pap with cabbage, butternut and everybody got some chicken as well. What a warm welcome!

The Open Air U-Smileys Restaurant in Fort Jackson An Industrial Area Close To Mdantsane

And as time went by I had the chance to taste the full variety of Xhosa dishes. My favourite dish is Umngusho. It reminds me somehow of the German traditional "lentil soup“. For those who do not know lentil soup I have made a photographic comparison between the two.

Lentil Soup versus Samp and Beans

Never Short of a celebration especially when food is involved

There is another dish I really fell in love with. Or I should better say got addicted to it. 
The Fat-Cake!!! ( Jonas, Jonas, Jonas......how come you did not pick up any weight?)

The Mamas at Inkwenkwezi High School (my former workplace) always sold it during the lunch break. There is a special relationship between the Fat Cake and me. I cannot describe it. But I just adore the Fat Cake! 
Especially the Fat Cake filled with liver. Mhhhhh!

Cutting U-Smileys - Sheep Heads are called like this because when cooked in hot water for a long time they shrink and their face or what is left of it takes on a smiling expression! So it is said!

All the African/Xhosa dishes I have mentioned in this article so far are "nice dishes". 
But there are a couple of dishes I did not manage to become accustomed to. I rather prefer to stay away from them.
Well there is The African Salad.  My guest family always screamed with laughter when they saw how I grimaced my face while I ate the dish. The taste was just always to sour for me!

The Last smile, served on a black trash bag..........Sheep head is a popular dish in the Xhosa culture

I want to end the article with the words of my project coordinator, Melikaya. 
On one of our last days in Mdantsane he said: "How can you leave South Africa without having tasted the Smiley!“ 
And he was right! How could we! And that is why we went with all the staff members to one of Mdantsane´s street kitchens and tasted uSmiley!!!
All I can say is that it was a unique experience I will never forget!

U Smiley

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Orange Time in Mdantsane

Orange Time in Mdantsane

This is how you can get your daily dose of Vitamin C at Hi-Way in Mdantsane. Every year it is the same.....when the oranges are ripe and cheat..... the orange mountain appears!
Just the vendors are not always the same!

Friday, August 16, 2013

MALAIKA - Miriam Makeba Sings - For My Brothers And Sisters Live 1977

Here comes some more African music. We have created this video a couple of months ago and we hope that you do like it... it sort of embodies many different facets of Africa. 

The unforgettable Miriam Makeba sings the Tanzanian song "Malaika" in her own inimitable way. The track was recorded live in 1977 and is part of the vinyl LP "For My Brothers And Sisters" produced by the Black Music label. We prefer this version to any other version and we think Makeba has captured entirely the spirit of this wonderful song of East African origin singing it in English and Swahili.
When it comes to the part where she sings "I love you my angel, I said, I love you my angel" the power of her voice triggers an entire waterfall of emotions........
Yeah, it is THE MAKEBA.....

About The Song 
Malaika is a Swahili song and comes from Tanzania. 
Malaika means angel in Swahili. Like many Swahili words, it has its origin in the Arabic language. An alternative Swahili meaning is a "baby" or "small child". 
The traditional version of the song Malaika is being commonly used as a lullaby throughout East Africa. Malaika is one of the most widely known of all Swahili songs.
The authorship of this beautiful popular song is still disputed. Many attribute it to the Kenyan musician Fadhili William.  For sure is, that William was the first to record the song, together with his band the Jambo Boys, in 1960.
It was later re-recorded at Equator Sound Studios by the British-born Kenyan music promoter Charles Worrod, who marketed the ballad to eventually become an internationally acclaimed song. 
The song went on to be popularised by many international artists including Angelique Kidjo, Harry Belafonte and Miriam Makeba to name only a few.
The lyrics of the song differ slightly from version to version; the title itself is subject to variation, e.g. to Ewe Malaika or My Angel.

Our Kenyan friend Asha (thank you Asha) has translated the original text into English for us. Well, again it is all about love and the "lobola", the bride price a young man has to pay for his beloved and simply can not afford it.
Malaika, nakupenda Malaika
 Angel, I love you angel
Malaika, nakupenda Malaika
 Angel, I love you angel
Nami nifanyeje, kijana mwenzio
 and I, what should I do, your young friend
Nashindwa na mali sina, we,
 I am defeated by the bride price that I don't have
Ningekuoa Malaika
 I would marry you, angel
Nashindwa na mali sina, we,
 I am defeated by the bride price that I don't have
Ningekuoa Malaika
 I would marry you, angel

Kidege, hukuwaza kidege
 Little bird, I think of you little bird
Nami nifanyeje, kijana mwenzio
 and I, what should I do, your young friend
Nashindwa na mali sina, we,
 I am defeated by the bride price that I don't have
Ningekuoa Malaika
 I would marry you, angel
Nashindwa na mali sina, we,
 I am defeated by the bride price that I don't have
Ningekuoa, Malaika
 I would marry you, angel

Pesa zasumbua roho yangu
 The money (which I do not have) depresses my soul
Pesa zasumbua roho yangu
 the money (which I do not have) depresses my soul
Nami nifanyeje, kijana mwenzio
 and I, what should I do, your young friend
Ningekuoa Malaika
 I would marry you, angel
Nashndwa na mali sina, we
 I am defeated by the bride price that I don't have
Ningekuoa Malaika
 I would marry you, angel

About The Images Used in The Film
The images were taken some sixty years back by the street photographer and scientist Dr. Juergen Schlichting, who was our publisher's uncle. He was the man who taught Chocolat how to see and how to take pictures. And as Chocolat says, this was the greatest gift of her life.
Schlichting traveled and photographed the African continent at a time when not many others where taking this road. He started in the late 1940's and continued until the end of his life which ended sadly at the age of 46. His images are witnesses of an Africa that is no more!
One more reason to continue with The Mdantsane Way. We know by now, that later generations will look at what we are documenting today!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Paul Xiniwe - 19th Century Political Activist, Entrepreneur And The Man Who Opened The First Hotel For Africans In King Williams Town

The Eastern Cape is full of historical surprises. 
Who was Paul Xiniwe?

Paul Xiniwe - owner of the Temperance Hotel in King Williams Town

Paul Xiniwe lived in the 19th century in the Eastern Cape. 
He was born in 1857 and died in 1902.  
Mr. Paul Xiniwe went to Lovedale in 1881 as an advanced student based on the recommendations of the Reverend Edward Solomon, of Bedford.

He had spent his youth in Bedford and had previously occupied positions on the railway as a timekeeper and later as a telegraph operator. 

In January 1881 Paul started studying at the by now famous Lovedale College. The College has produced many African leaders and later freedom fighters over the years.
In the second year of his studies Paul obtained the seventy-fourth certificate of competency at the Elementary Teachers Examination. 
He graduated from the Lovedale College like many other future leaders of South Africa and started to teach at the Edwards Memorial School in Port Elizabeth. His school was said to stand high in efficiency in the classification of schools of the district. 

But Paul was destined to be more than a teacher in his life. After some years of teaching he had saved enough money, so he could resign as a teacher. He bought properties in the cities of East London, Port Elizabeth and King Williams Town, and opened merchant stores there. In the years to come he became a prominent business man in the Cape Province. He was interested in politics, a Christian in belief and he took a very keen interest in the welfare of the African people.

In 1884 he presented a paper at the Native Educational Society, in which he stressed that the time had come for Africans to become members in Parliament.

He was a memeber of Imbumba Yama Nyama and became later a leader of the South African Native Congress.

But even more astonishing is the fact that in 1984 he opened the Temperance Hotel at Market Square in King Williams Town. It was the first hotel for Africans in the Cape Province and the double storey building was acquired at the time it cost 2000 Pounds. 
In a very short time the Temperance Hotel was known throughout the Cape Province. 

In Imvo Zabantsundu (June 3 to November 21, 1961), Z. K. Matthews noted the following observations concerning Paul Xiniwe: 

“One of the best known buildings in King William’s Town is the Temperance Hotel. For generations this hotel has been a home away from home for many thousands of Africans, who, for one reason or another have had occasion to pay a visit to King William’s Town. Some have spent a night or two there, others have had a meal or two there, while others have gone in there just to rest their feet after a round of busy shopping in the town. One wonders how many of those who have had the benefit of this place ever spare a thought of gratitude to Paul Xiniwe, who established this home for Africans many years ago. 
Like so many of his contemporaries Paul Xiniwe was educated at Lovedale where he qualified as a primary school teacher. After he left Lovedale he entered the teaching profession and taught at various schools in the Eastern Cape. 
Eventually he decided to give up teaching and to blaze a new trail for Africans in business. This he did at a time when the belief was still widely held that no African could run a business successfully. . . . But the Temperance Hotel was not merely a business place. It was a center of culture. Both Paul Xiniwe and his wife were capable musicians. In their younger days they had both been members of an African Choir which toured Europe and they always encouraged music in their home and in the district”.
(Z.K. Mathews from "Paul Xiniwe blazed new trail for Africans”, Imvo Zabantsundu, October 7, 1961).  

By the way Imvo Zabantsundu ( Native Opinion) was a newspaper published by the brilliant 24 year old John Tengo Jabavu, another lovedale graduate. He had set up his own newspaper with white and black political allies and the first issue appeared on Monday the 3 November 1884 and its appearance was a landmark occasion in the political history of South Africa, heralding the birth of an independant black press, a major step in the struggle for racial equality in the still new colonial system

The African choir who toured Europe is an amazing story in itself. 
The other members of the African choir were Johanna Jonkers, Josiah Semouse, Charlotte Manye (Maxeke). These young New Africans seem to have been inspired by the visit of the "New Negro Orpheus McAdoo and the Virginia Jubilee Singers" who visited South Africa in 1890 singing all forms of Negro Spirituals. In appropriating the Negro Spirituals, Charlotte Manye Maxeke and others were among the earliest who established a Black Atlantic connection between New Negro modernity and New African modernity (Pitzer College).

Paul Xiniwe A Man Of Great Influence And Power At His Time

Paul married Miss Ndwanya, the sister of Mr. Ndwanya, a law agent who was respected alike by the Europeans residing in the province and the "natives" at Middle-drift. 

He became the father of five children, three sons and two daughters.

Unfortunately Mr. Paul Xiniwe died at an early age leaving a widow and five children to look after themselves. 

According to the website Ancestry 24:  "Mrs. Xiniwe who, with her husband, had been to Europe as a member of the African choir, was a lady of experience, tact, character and business acumen. Difficult though it was, she maintained her late husband’s property, and carried on the business and educated her children. This lady indeed commanded the respect of all who knew her, white and black. Paul Xiniwe was a man of his word. He swore he would never touch liquor. When he became very ill his doctor advised him to take a little brandy, but he made up his mind that he would not do so, although it was said brandy was the only thing that would save his life".

To illustrate a little bit the spirit of the time in which Paul Xiniwe lived we just have to look at the images and listen to the following facts. 
King Williams town was a booming place with businesses mushrooming at every corner. But STILL It was unusual for an African man in the 19th century to become an entrepreneur and be successful with it, at the same time promoting his culture and the arts, all the while being actively involved in politics. But Paul Xiniwe somehow managed. The fact, that he was an extremely well educated, well groomed and easy to talk to man made him popular amongst the White settlers and business men as well.

By 1880 many of the large businesses, that dominated King Williams Town for the next two decades had already emerged. They were Malcher & Malcomess; Baker, Baker & Co; Whitaker & Dyer and J.W.Weir.
These business used traders as intermediaries in the rural areas and wholesalers were able to build up a large two-way trade by selling imported goods and purchasing skins, hides and wool for the export.
According to John Noble, who estimated conservatively the purchasing power of the Cape African's "at the low amount" of 400.000 pounds annually, 60.000 woolen blankets were sold in King Williams town in one year only, among other things like American ploughs, hoes, picks, sheets, axes, iron pots, ring beads, clothing, grain bags, flour, sugar, wire, knives, ochre, buckets and chains.

King Tanning, the image was taken in the 1930's

A Shop In King Williams Town in the 1930's

Paul Xiniwe was without doubt a great modernizer of his time, who managed to induce change (At least for him and some around him) with great skill in an environment, that was not open to change.

The streets of King Williams Town look very much different today, that in the last century. How much of that change can be attributed to a man like Paul Xiniwe. Business is now open to people of all color, but still it is difficult to be successful.

Preparing For Trade On The Streets Of King Williams Town

And while the houses and the cars, the clothes and the people change, while time moves on and the clock ticks away our time, and we think we are the ones who count now, nothing exists itself. Everything is linked and many have contributed to what is now.

A Historical Building in King Williams Town
King Williams Town Street Life

A Memorial in King Williams Town

The Sun Newspaper Building in King Williams Town

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Public Holiday In The Transkei - A Story Without Words

A tiny piece of rural African life observed during two hours from the same spot.
Breathe the color!

Vava;s Tavern at Quolora By The Sea
Child Of Africa

Dog Of Africa -One Of The Most Faithful

Do Not Leave The Parcels Here Again! Whatever it was what the person did - he upset someone!

Unlock The Extra Cold Castle Lite And Save At The Same Time!

Breathe The Color - Vava's Tavern At Quolora By The Sea

In Africa Learning How To Take Care Of Your Siblings Starts The Day When You Are Born

My Home Is My Castle

Afternoon Freedom

Still a lot to unlock this afternoon......

Some Things Take Longer To Heal

Thirsty...... unlocking mother goat's milk

Safety In the Arms Of Her Baby Sister

Traditional Fencing In The Transkei

Africa's Beauty United In A Single Child

Local Design At Quolora By The Sea

Just Afternoon Life.....
If I could just get rid of this stick....

Coming Home

I am A VODACOM kid.....

A Lot To Tell

Bringing home the drinks - in a wheel barrow

Attending to the young ones

Studying in front of the trading store

Africa is a dancer

The Transkei

Give me your hand...

A Nguni Bull

The Ferryman

Roadworks Never Seem to Stop


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