Day 9: We couldn’t believe it was the weekend already! The first week had gone in so fast and we had all enjoyed every moment of it. On Saturday, the teachers had organised for us to meet the third Zulu queen! Just as we were leaving Mtubatuba, we spotted some learners from the school in their uniform. It was explained that the Grade twelves and their teachers work on Saturdays as well as much of their holidays to ensure that the pupils get the best grades possible and there was no resentment as far as we could see. Back to the Zulu Queen! Of course we were on South African timing so we arrived late, yet she still happily welcomed us into her home where she served us breakfast- not many people can say they have eaten breakfast with a Zulu queen! We felt really lucky to have the experience, teachers included. Although it did seem quite surreal to be meeting someone of importance and affluence in such an informal manner.The atmosphere was so different compared to what would have been experienced if we had visited Buckingham Palace. We were honored that she spent time talking to us and welcoming us. She even gave us all t-shirts which were in support of her husband, the king! These became the teachers’ school uniform on Monday- officially true Zulus!
This was the main palatial rondavel used by the Queen to attend to her visitors. All in all, there were about eight rondavels. For anyone who is unsure, they are old, traditional homes with curved walls. Now many people use the tardis-like structures as kitchens, however, the Zulu Queen told us that each of the rondavels at the palace contains a kitchen, bedrooms and living room! They are bigger than you think. Even the one pictured above had enough space left in it for the King’s stuffed lion which took PRIDE of place next to the dining table!
As part of the Royal protocol, the Queen is not allowed to have a photo taken on her own for security reasons, so the only option was all in- one big group photo with the lady herself taking centre stage.
Behind us lies hundreds of thousands of reeds left by the ‘maidens’ of surrounding villages. This is another old tradition used during the ‘Reed Festival.’ During this festival young girls from all over come and dance for the King who, historically, picked one of them to be his wife. The reeds were bundled together and used to repair the reed windscreen which surrounds the royal village and were left there as a gift to the queen by the thousands of girls who come to perform this ‘reed dance.’ From the large numbers of them sitting in the background, you can only imagine how many girls attended last year’s festival!
On our way home from MEETING THE QUEEN, we came across a small waterfall where some locals were doing their weekend washing. We stopped to say hello.
On the way home we went to an Arts and Crafts market. It was run as a workers’ cooperative. Each item was labelled with a price and the name of the craftsperson. The craftworkers take turns to chaperon the market, without pay. They ensure that all payments go directly to the creator of each item.
There was just stall after stall of unique, handmade items, typical to South Africa and we all really enjoyed browsing at the various crafts.
We thank the teachers for organising such an enjoyable day for us- we had a great time and will never forget that time we ate scrambled eggs with the Zulu Queen!