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Ubuntu Christmas: Day 2 - Fetching water with a bucket on the head

2018-12-29 09:06

Vuyi Mpofu

Nissan X-Trail

Image: Vuyi Mpofu

Three glamour girls packed their bags in a Nissan X-Trail, taking off their weaves, and nails, to reconnect with their rural roots in a road trip from Jozi down to some villages on the Wild Coast.

Waking up to the sound of clucking chickens and the squeal of laughter from children as they played hide-and-seek around the X-Trail I was reminded of how the Ubuntu Christmas adventure had come about. I got up from my makeshift bed (read: mattress) and lazily made my way to the door of the rondavel and was greeted by the most dazzling beam of sunlight. 

As I watched two stallions prancing about in the kraal, I marveled at the agility of the piglets making a hasty retreat out of their way. The smell of freshly-brewed coffee over a fire reminded me how hungry I was but it was the roar of the ocean behind me, which made all other activities fade into oblivion.

What a sight!

But first, I had to ‘pay my dues’ and after taking a bath the traditional way i.e., in a plastic basin with just enough water to cover my ankles, I reported for duty to our hostess, the Chieftress’ sister-in-law, Princess Lingeleni Masukude Malindi.

Ubuntu Christmas: 'Glam girls' go back to their roots with a Nissan X-Trail in an epic road trip adventure

First order of the day was to fetch water from the nearby river. And no, we were not going to use the vast boot of the Nissan X-Trail, we were doing it the 'usual way'. Whilst some households had Jojo water tanks, Princess preferred to fetch her water ‘fresh’ from the river as and when she needed it. Armed with a bucket and donning my 'sunnies', I made quite a spectacle of myself as I marched behind our guide who would show me just how to draw water.


It wasn’t as easy as I thought because the process involved swirling the water about, to get rid of leaves and other debris, then quickly drawing only the fast moving water into the bucket using a series of sharp and well-timed wrist movements, all the whilst balancing on a wet rock and doing my best not to fall head first into the river. What made it more difficult was the fact that a 12-year girl came to the same spot I was at, and did the whole swirl and wrist flick movements as gracefully as a gazelle. 

My jaw dropped and I felt somewhat incompetent but I would not be deterred; not by her look of disgust nor the shrieks of laughter from our guide and Songo. After a few attempts, I filled the bucket a quarter of the way up and decided to call it a day.  

Swooping the bucket up onto my head I took a few steps forward only to feel my bucket swaying unsteadily on my head just before crashing to the ground. 

Drenched, humiliated and close to tears I began the process again and after what felt like 24-hours later, my hard work paid off although the bucket only contained a 1/3 of water. 

Proud of myself nonetheless, I had no idea what was to come. As I gingerly made my way down the path, a woman walking in the opposite direction burst into laughter all the whilst, clutching her belly with one hand and pointing a weathered finger at me with the other.

Ubuntu Christmas: Day 1 - Jozi to Port St John’s (or round about there)

When she finally managed to control herself, and in-between wiping tears from her face, she simply said that she had many unmarried sons but that she would rather they all died single than marry a woman who could only carry enough water on her head to give her chickens a drink. What a blow to my ego.

I wish we could have just used our 4X4 Nissan X-Trail which has a great suspension system, hill start assist and hill descent control. 

To take the sting out of that whole experience, we visited the nearby beach in the comfort of the X-Trail, which must be one of the best-kept secrets in the country. Depending on whom I asked, it had many different names, but the one most listed was Mbotyi Beach. 

Sparsely populated, it was a delight to see teens playing beach soccer and toddlers learning how to surf as grannies basked in the fading light of the sun’s rays.

I began to imagine what life in this isolated piece of heaven would be if I simply hung up my heels and moved here on a permanent basis. The thought would linger for the next few days albeit a more realistic version being having a holiday hut in the village. Either way, the whole thing would require some serious mulling over.

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