Die Region KwaZulu-Natal
She is the most diverse and perhaps even the most exciting region for South Africa fans. Everything that holidaymakers want is close together here, and all that in just over an hour’s drive: safaris in the national parks (with the largest white rhinoceros population in Africa), beach holidays, hiking through lush subtropical nature.
KwaZulu-Natal is the name of this province in the very east of South Africa, which borders on the neighboring countries Mozambique, Lesotho and Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) as well as the bathtub-warm Indian Ocean. KwaZulu means “place of the Zulu”, the region encompasses the traditional settlement area of the people who today make up the largest ethnic group in South Africa with around eleven million people.
KwaZulu-Natal is also called the Garden Province because of its subtropical coast, but there are also savannas in the hinterland – and in the African winter people ski in the high mountains. The largest city is the port metropolis Durban. It offers excellent bathing and surfing opportunities on its sandy beaches and off the cliffs: 80 kilometers of the Dolphin Coast on one side, 160 kilometers of the South and Hibiscus Coast on the other, all year round.
The zebra mongoose is a clever gourmet
About the size of a cat, equipped with a pointed snout and noticeably large ears, the zebra mongoose roams (Latin: Mungos mungo) the savannahs and forests of southern Africa. It owes its name to the dark horizontal stripes on its back, which are reminiscent of the black and white ungulate.
They’re pretty clever and real little gourmets: when the zebra mongoose have stolen a hard-shelled treat, such as an egg, they grab it with their front paws, balance on their hind legs, and then hurl it firmly against the nearest rock so that it breaks . They prefer to roll slimy snails or prey covered with fur on the ground before they eat – and thus coat them with a mango-style breading.
The little diurnal predator lives and hunts in groups for beetles, frogs and mice. In the event of danger, he stands on his back legs, gives a sharp warning whistle and rushes into his earthwork with his fellow dogs. The little animals are extremely chatty – and can be heard from afar. They twitter, whistle and cheek. How cute they look is shown in a video in which the Zoo Bioparc Valencia presented the offspring of its zebra mongoose in summer 2019:
In South Africa, King Shaka is a national hero
The fact that the Zulu grew from a clan to the largest ethnic group in South Africa, now numbering eleven million people, is thanks to a man: King Shaka. Born in 1787 in what is now KwaZulu-Natal as the illegitimate child of a chief, Shaka became a warrior at an early age and, because of his extraordinary courage, quickly rose to become army commander.
Less than 30 years old, he took over his father’s tribe and was thus the master of more than 1500 Zulu in an area of 15 square kilometers. Through strict military leadership, rigorous training, and carefully crafted maneuvers, Shaka’s army defeated numerous other tribes and presented them with the choice of either joining the Zulu – or remaining enemies.
At the end of his life, Shaka’s territory extended over half of Southeast Africa and already comprised a quarter of a million people. Shaka is still considered to be one of the greatest national heroes in South Africa. The Zulu celebrate him every September on “King Shaka Day”.
The Dragon Mountains are a dream for hiking
The Zulu have a much more fitting and melodious name for the jagged Drakensberg (Afrikaans for Dragon Mountains): uKhahlambawhich means “wall of erected spears”. That fits wonderfully, because the national park on the border with Lesotho is characterized by rugged mountain ranges up to 3482 meters high.
In between thunderous waterfalls, bizarre gorges, lush green valleys, rocky slopes full of caves with prehistoric animal paintings of the San people who hunted here 100,000 years ago. A dream region for hikers, there are 260 kilometers of signposted trekking paths.
Indians came as guest workers and stayed
KwaZulu-Natal has 1.3 million people of Indian origin – so many do not live anywhere else outside of the subcontinent. From the middle of the 19th century, their ancestors were recruited as guest workers for the sugar cane plantations, and many of them stayed forever.
Their proportion is highest in Durban to this day – which can be seen everywhere in the cityscape: many Hindu temples, Indian-inspired restaurants and street food specialties such as bunny chow, a spicy curry dish in a loaf of white bread.
Mbaqanga is the rhythmic sound of rebellion
What happens when you combine traditional Zulu music with set pieces from soul, jazz and reggae? Voilà: Mbaqanga. Originating at street festivals in the early 1960s, the style, also known as township jive, was given the name of a corn porridge that is considered to be the poor South African food.
The fast, very danceable Mbaqanga thus became the rhythmic sound of the rebellion against the apartheid regime. He became internationally known in the 1980s through the band Ladysmith Black Mambazo from KwaZulu-Natal and their guest appearance on Paul Simon’s album “Graceland”.
“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play it better than everyone else “
That said Albert John Luthuli (around 1898-1967), Zulu leader and longtime president of the independence party African National Congress (ANC) for the province Natal. In 1960 he was the first African to win the Nobel Peace Prize for his work against apartheid policy. Luthuli was banned from traveling, repeatedly arrested and threatened, but continued tirelessly calling on the black population of South Africa to be patient in the fight against racial segregation.
He was significantly influenced by Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence – who himself had spent several years in KwaZulu-Natal. When the prerequisites for equality for all South African residents were created in the mid-1990s, this was also thanks to Luthuli, who however did not live to see the end of apartheid. With the Order of Luthuli, a high state honor is named after him.
Quirky, record-breaking, typical: You can find more parts of our regional geography series here.
This text is from WELT AM SONNTAG. We will be happy to deliver them to your home on a regular basis.