Sunday, December 21, 2008

South Africa is a fairly large country with many diverse ethnic groups and cultures. In recent years many cultural villages have been developed around the country. These open-air museums afford locals and tourists the opportunity to learn more about the various ethnic groups and their individual traditions and cultures.

A visit to one of these villages allows the tourist the opportunity to experience tribal life while dance groups chant and sing to the rhythmic beat of drums. Stick fighting, traditional dress, beer making and the wonderful African bead-work and other traditional arts and crafts like paintings, wood carving, basket weaving are all on show.

These villages also go a long way towards the economic empowerment of the craftsman in the area as the villages are marketed as tourist attractions that offer an outlet for the sale of their arts and crafts.

The province of Kwazulu Natal where I lived for a number of years is home to the Zulu people, a proud nation with a history of courage and a fighting spirit dating back to the pre-colonial era.

Whilst these villages depict the traditions and culture of a proud people the stark reality of everyday life is a far cry from what is put on show for visitors. Poverty, unemployment and increasing HIV disease are the order of the day. The income from the shows and sale of arts and crafts is important and does benefit the locals.

These fun water colours show some of the day to day life in an African village.