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From Madiba, an icon who unified a country after
years of turmoil to a melting pot of cultures,
traditions and historic landmarks – there’s a new
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Wallpaper

Photographer: James Walsh

The stunning landscape consists of rolling hills dotted with thatched rondavels and Homesteads of the local Xhosa people who still farm these lands today. Modern living has not quiet invaded this part of South Africa yet, there are no freeways, no tarred roads and no electricity.

Corridor

Photographer: Sacha Specker

Sport has the power to change the world. [applause] It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope, where once there was only despair. – “Nelson Mandela”

Photographer: Sacha Specker

It is believed that earliest livestock was brought from the north east to Southern Africa as far back as the so-called Iron Age. Today life remains fairly unchanged for nomadic pastoralists, who move their livestock, following the rains and greener pastures.

Photographer: Sacha Specker

SeShweshwe is a printed dyed cotton fabric widely used for traditional South African clothing. Originally dyed indigo, the fabric is manufactured in a variety of colours and printing designs characterised by intricate geometric patterns. The local name shweshwe is derived from the fabric’s association with Lesotho’s King Moshoeshoe also spelled “Moshweshwe”. Moshoeshoe I was gifted with the fabric by French missionaries in the 1840s and subsequently popularised it. Other 19th century German and Swiss settlers also imported the blaudruck (“blue print”) fabric for their clothing and helped entrench it in South African culture.

Photographer: Sacha Specker

Zulu Dance. Traditional Zulu dancing is an important part of the Zulu culture. Dancing is usually performed during a traditional Zulu ceremony, and is accompanied by vibrant singing and sometimes the beating of drums.

Photographer: Sacha Specker

In the early 19th century Kalk Bay began to fourish as fishing village. Today it is a hub for small commercial fishing operations including West Coast Rock Lobster. The pods are stacked aboard the vessels, baited and thrown overboard and retrieved once full of crayfish. A custom deeply rooted in the modern culture of the Cape and West Coast.

Photographer: Sacha Specker

Kalk Bay Harbour

Photographer: Sacha Specker

The small sheltered beach known as St. James beach lies on the False Bay coastline. It is popular for its rock pools, series of iconic colourful wooden beach huts and a large man-made tidal pool.

Photographer: Sacha Specker

Bo Kaap

Photographer: Peter Chadwick

In South Africa, the ox-wagon was adopted as an Afrikaner cultural icon. The ossewa is mentioned in the first verse of “Die Stem”, the Afrikaans poem which became South Africa’s national anthem from 1957 to 1994. Today it is a simple form of transport in rural areas of the country.

Photographer: Peter Chadwick

The oldest profession before the oldest profession was, of course, subsistence and small-scale fishing. South Africa has a rich history in subsistence fishing, reaching as far back as 2000 years into the past.

Photographer: Peter Chadwick

Subsistence and recreational fishing has long been a daily past time along the rocky shoreline of Arniston, a small village near the southern most point of Africa.

Photographer: John Costello

Dressed in highly stylised traditional apparel and urged on by the beating of drums and the signing of young women and girls, the young men, are members of groups referred to as ‘amaBhungu’ who dance their hearts out, each trying to outperform the other.

The dances and competition of the amaBhungu originated decades ago among the amaPondo cane cutters who went to work in the sugar estates of Natal, and these continue today among the rural and mostly coastal communities of Pondoland in the area of the old Transkei.

There could be as many as ten local groups participating at any one time on these occasions, and the competition is fierce with stamping feet tramping the grass flat and raising dust, and the ululation of the women’s voices driving them to greater effort.

There are no prizes attached to this, the winners being the group that attracts the most attention.

Photographer: Sacha Specker

The Drakensberg is the name given to the eastern portion of the Great Escarpment, which encloses the central Southern African plateau. The Great Escarpment reaches its greatest elevation in this region – 2,000 to 3,482 metres. It is located within the borders of South Africa and Lesotho. Th Drakensberg is home to the world’s second-highest waterfall, the Tugela Falls (Thukela Falls), with a total drop of 947 metres (3,100 feet).

Photographer: Greg Ewing

Stick fighting is an art that Xhosas learn from an early age when they are out in the veld (pastures) herding cattle. This is where the training starts because they will use this skill to defend themselves and their families. Most of the sticks that Xhosa men carry were given to them at their circumcision ceremony. They learn the art of stick fighting which is done according to strict rules. In the beginning, they use strong branches and as they grow older they are given a stick and small shield. Young boys also learn how to handle a knobkerrie (isagila) which is a short club with a ball-like top end. These are hurled at birds, hares and any small animals and are also hitting weapons.

Photographer: John Costello

Caught up in a display of sheer exuberance and pride, this tribesman, dressed in traditional apparel, performs for the camera.

He is part of a remote community in coastal Pondoland who are on their way to an “isiGidi” a feast of song and dance which can last throughout the night.

Song and dance form an integral and important part of the rural communities life, affording people a break from daily chores and an occasion to proudly don traditional apparel and revisit the the old songs and dances.

Photographer: John Costello

Among the Bantu tribes of Southern Africa Africa the most important event in a mans life would be the ceremony of circumcision which marks the transition from being a boy into manhood.

A group of young men, mostly in their late teens to early twenties, would be secluded in a hut, the “boma”normally situated near a stream or source of water and built on a framework of poles erected by the men and thatched with grass by the women.

There they would be circumcised by the “ngcibi” the surgeon, an elderly man trained and experienced in performing the operation.

Once circumcised they remain confined in the hut during which time the wound is treated and the young men, now “abakhweta” are taught about the duties expected of a man. During this period of seclusion, normally lasting seven days, they are only allowed minimal food and water

Once the wound is healed and the “umosiso” sacrifice of a goat has been held, the abakweta are now “freed from the fast”, and now allowed to feed themselves and roam freely in the veld.

Directly after the sacrifice the abakhweta paint themselves with “ingceke” a white clay, this being fastidiously applied and maintained throughout the final period of seclusion from the outside world.

The clay acts as a symbol of purity and also serves to disguise themselves as during this period they should not be recognised by woman, and in the event of them meeting a married woman they hide their face in their blanket.

Some three months after the initiation ceremony, a further ceremony, the “umphumo” meaning “to come out” is held.

On the day that this happens all the girls and young women are confined to their huts, and the men, old and young, gather at the abakhweta’s hut, which is now covered with brushwood. The initiates place all their blankets, sticks and other possesions into the hut which is now set alight, and they run, naked and chased by a screaming mob of youths down to the nearby river, never looking back, and there they was themselves clean of the white clay.

Emerging from the river, the initiates who become referred to as “amakrwala” (meaning new life) are presented with a new white blanket, walk in procession to the senior personages cattle kraal, where an ox is sacrificed to celebrate their entry into manhood. They are then presented with a new outfit of clothing which marks their status as young men, and are now referred to as ‘ndoda” a man, and they are then allowed to take their place in society’.

Photographer: John Costello

Placid cows of the South African Transkei coastline pose for photographs without a worry in the world, making them some of the most photographed in South Africa.

Photographer: John Costello

There are three phases to the circumcision ritual, each of which is marked by the sacrifice of a beast, normally a goat.

The first of these is “umshwamo” denoting the eating of the foreleg of the sacrificial animal, the next is that of ‘umomiso” when the “abakweta” after their period of seclusion in the “boma” or hut are now allowed to leave its confines and end their fast, the final one being the “umphumo” the time when they end the ceremony and enter the world of society.

It was during the period after leaving the hut and entering the world as men that the abakweta, dressed in reed and palm leaf skirts and head dresses, performed the “umthsilo” dance.

The purpose of the apparel was to mask the identity of the wearer, as seclusion and disguise during the period of initiation served to emphasize that the initiate was supposed to have left the community, and when he reappeared, it was as an adult male now capable of playing his part in society

Once common, the dancing of the umtshilo is now becoming a rarity.

Photographer: John Costello

Historically, homesteads ‘imizi’ of the Xhosa Culture tended to be scattered over the rural landscape and were situated on ridges to facilitate drainage and military defence. Dwellings consisted of a circular frame of poles and saplings, which were bent and bound in the shape of a beehive and thatched from top to bottom with grass. To ensure adequate insulation, the inside of the thatch was plastered with a mixture of mud and dung from ground level to about shoulder height.

Photographer: Peter Chadwick

Man has a long and rich history connected with the oceans. Fisheries have played an important part in the development of the South African culture and economy, with many coastal communities being dependent on the sea for their livelihoods.

Photographer: James Walsh

The Basotho are native to the independent, and land-locked Lesotho, as well as the Drakensberg region of Kwazulu Natal. The Basotho people are one with the mountainous terrain of the highlands and the shepherds know every peak and valley as well as they know their own children.

Photographer: James Walsh

The Basotho people are known to own land communally and are largely shepherds, who follow their sheep and goats along the rocky crags of the Drakensberg mountains. Their villages comprise huts or kraals. The shepherds are mainly boys aged between eight and eighteen years who usually live in small huts dotted along the grazing areas of the imposing Drakensberg, referred to as Motibo. In Basotho culture, the responsibility of tending sheep is ascribed to these young lads as a rite of passage where they are initiated into manhood and prove their fortitude and strength.

Photographer: James Walsh

Historically, homesteads ‘imizi’ of the Xhosa Culture tended to be scattered over the rural landscape and were situated on ridges to facilitate drainage and military defence. Dwellings consisted of a circular frame of poles and saplings, which were bent and bound in the shape of a beehive and thatched from top to bottom with grass. To ensure adequate insulation, the inside of the thatch was plastered with a mixture of mud and dung from ground level to about shoulder height.

Photographer: Sacha Specker

The tribal chief is called an inkosi and is more than a chief but an arbiter, an object of reverence and respect and the figurehead for the entire group he is responsible for.

Bedroom

Photographer: Sacha Specker

The socio-historical significance of the game in South Africa is not a recent phenomenon, as the impressive growth of football over time clearly demonstrates. South Africa hosting the 2010 Soccer World Cup marks a key moment in the country’s modern history.

Photographer: Sacha Specker

Crayfish pods are neatly stacked on a fishing trawler in Kalk Bay. Kalk Bay is a small fishing harbour along the east coast of the Cape Peninsula to the south of Cape Town. It has become a very hip and trendy place, with a fine selection of restaurants, coffee shops and bistros, and a number of eclectic, alternative shops along the Main Road on either side of the train station.

Photographer: Sacha Specker

About 30 minutes drive from Cape Town’s City Centre is a seaside suburb known as the South African surfing birthplace. Muizenberg has a beautiful long beach which attracts people from all walks of life. It is one of the best places in the world to learn surfing because of its consistent great waves and good surfing facilities.

Photographer: Sacha Specker

The Bo-Kaap is an area of Cape Town, South Africa formerly known as the Malay Quarter. It is a former township, situated on the slopes of Signal Hill above the city centre and is a historical centre of Cape Malay culture in Cape Town. The Nurul Islam Mosque, established in 1844, is located in the area.

Photographer: John Costello

Young boys are given chores from the age of about six, it is their duty to look after their father’s herd (ukulusa). While herding the cows, they ensure that they do not enter anybody’s fields, they also ensure that they take the cattle to drink water and that they are not attacked or stolen.

Photographer: John Costello

Meeting a long-horned cow on the beach is not usually an everyday occurrence, except if you happen to be on the Transkei Wild Coast that is.

Photographer: Sacha Specker

The paintings in the cave were left there by the ancient San folk, who were hunter-gatherers that lived in tribes. They had an intricate understanding of the land, its plants, and its animals. They developed unique ways of hunting, preparing meat, making clothing, and using plants as medicine. As such, they are still fascinating to learn about; even if only to see their primitive art forms on the rocky faces of the mountains. Look out for the tiny hand prints and the portrayal of human figures too.

Photographer: John Costello

A group of Xhosa women in the Eastern Cape returning home with the fire wood they have collected throughout the day.

Photographer:

The Basotho people are known to own land communally and are largely shepherds, who follow their sheep and goats along the rocky crags of the Drakensberg mountains. Their villages comprise huts or kraals. The shepherds are mainly boys aged between eight and eighteen years who usually live in small huts dotted along the grazing areas of the imposing Drakensberg, referred to as Motibo.

Photographer: James Walsh

The Wild Coast, known also as the Transkei, is a 250 kilometre long stretch of rugged and unspoiled coastline that stretches north of East London along sweeping bays, footprint-free beaches, lazy lagoons and rocky headlands. Originally encompassing the rural Transkei region only, today the Wild Coast includes the pretty seaside villages of the Jikeleza Route that run south along the coastline between the Kei River and East London.