Hippos, Hotspots, and Homelands - The Xhosa People in Rural SA

Hippos, Hotspots, and Homelands - The Xhosa People in Rural SA


Amakwethu XhosaWhere do the Xhosa people come from?

My memoir Hippos, Hotspots, and Homelands -  tells about the Xhosa people in rural South Africa. They moved down from central east Africa, settling in the Eastern parts of the country. Nelson Mandela is probably the most famous member of this tribe, the son of a chief. The Xhosa people have a long tradition of kings and chiefs and particular customs.

Xhosa dress

Xhosa ladies of rural SA in traditional attire getting ready for the traditional dancing.They dress elaborately, the ladies painting their faces with dotted patterns while wearing beautifully embroidered clothes, beadwork, jewelry, and traditional collars. The different colors of the headdresses indicate where they are live. Married women wear long aprons over their dresses. A cloak covers their bodies, usually trimmed with a black braid. They often add a sling bag. The men wear a wraparound skirt or front cover, animal skin, or long scarf over the shoulder. Sometimes, they wear headdresses made from beads or cloth and animal skin sandals.

Xhosa Food

One of the first things I learned to do was cook ‘ngushe,’ a staple food in the Xhosa culture and rural South Africa.

“Samp consists of coarsely ground corn kernels that have been stamped and chopped, much like hominy in the United States. I learned to prepare it by soaking the corn kernels and dried black-eyed or sugar beans overnight and cooking the mixture in a slow cooker, adding salt, cubes of pork meat, or rashers

Xhosa face-paintingof bacon. Sometimes, I would add onion, potato, and tomato. Later, I discovered that a dash of curry gave it additional flavor.*

Face painting

Gold Restaurant ladies with faces paintedOn a recent visit to South Africa, I enjoyed the face-painting activity and the obvious pride in their handiwork at Gold Restaurant in Cape Town.


*Read some enthralling stories about the Xhosa people in my upcoming book, Hippos, Hotspots, and Homelands – Elsa van der Byl (to be on Kindle and Amazon at the end of May)

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