While at Kruger, along with a few other guests, we were taken to visit an African village. We began our visit by touring the local school
where the 7th graders sang the South African national anthem for us, asked us some questions and told us a little about themselves. Although the little children peeking through the door were super cute, we felt uncomfortable about it all. I couldn’t help imagining our children back home put on display for the tourists, I don’t think anyone would stand for it.
We then visited the home of a traditional healer who told us how she cured ailments by consulting animal bones and prescribing different herbs.
After spending a full year learning the craft, her apprentice was about ready to strike out on her own.
We also visited the home of the village chief where his wife explained how the chief resolved conflicts in the village and allocated land for newlyweds. Although houses used to be built with mud, nowadays most are made with blocks and the newer ones with brick.
Afterwards, we watched a group of young boys dance for us
before we were led to a traditional lunch consisting of pap and chicken.
It was quite good, Fernando even went in for seconds. Here, two women demonstrate how maize is ground in a traditional way to make the pap which Fernando has really taken a liking to.
I still think it tastes like an undercooked potato and falls like a brick in your stomach. The jokes from the guide about how having at least two wives is necessary to have good pap weren’t all that funny either. Did I fail to mention that polygamy is quite common in these parts? Most men, our guide included, have at least two.
An interesting fact is that while the village inhabitants are all Africans, the shopkeepers (in every village) are mostly Indian. The guide explained that the Indians have established a shopping web whereby they negotiate goods’ prices in bulk and thus are able to undersell the local African shopkeepers and slowly drive them out of business.
My opinion about this village visit is ambivalent. Learning about how the people live, their culture, their food, is exactly what we desire when traveling to a new place. However, making the students perform for the tourists just doesn’t feel right and it left us with a sour aftertaste.