A Visit to the People who Click
Bulungula, Eastern Cape, South Africa, 2009-10-12 12:00 by Martin and Laerke
It was raining and the sky was hanging low and grey over our heads, we were on our way to Bulungula; a community run place by the ocean on the wild coast. It is deep in the Xhosa homeland, and the roads are somewhere in between horrible and non-existent – the first part of the way down to the coast is gravel roads, which you do in your own car, be warned, it’s not easy driving, especially after rain. You park your car about an hour away from this place and they come and pick you up in a sturdy 4x4, something we discovered was very much needed. It had been rainy weather for the last few days, so the track was pretty wet and slippery, at places the driver simply chose to go besides the track! It was a fun and VERY bumpy ride; no way would our Citi Golf have made it.
The community run a variety of little tours, we opted for one called “Women Power” were you get to partake in the everyday of a Xhosa woman. We collected water and carried it back to the little round hut on our heads; we cooked and we talked. The two young women, who were our guides for the day, were about my age, both unmarried and both had respectively 1 and 2 kids. The reason they were unmarried was that any young man who wish to marry, must pay a bride-price of 10 cows to the bride’s family, each cow cost about 5000 rand (about 3300kr). Cici-wu (as one of the girls were called) said that when her boyfriend came to her family’s hut her father would chase him away with a stick, because the boyfriend doesn’t have 10 cows (or any cows for that matter) to pay for her. We asked her if he was saving up for the cows; he was, but it would probably take a long time, she added. It seems that this system had the girls all ending up pregnant but with no husbands…

While hearing the Xhosa chatter away among themselves, we very soon heard something that is very special indeed. Xhosa language has, as many other of the South African languages, some sounds that we Europeans have a hard time mimicking; the clicks. Xhosa language sounds very foreign, but when you hear the various clicking sounds in midsentence, you know that this is truly another world. Xhosa is actually pronounced “’Click-sound’-oohsa”.
Another day was spent paddling a canoe up the nearby Xora river, a lovely way to relax and watch the amazing scenery. We spotted a few Kamikaze Fish jumping out of the river, a big turtle in the water and a beautiful kingfisher hovering above the lake and swiftly diving for a small fish. Walking in the wide, totally deserted beach, with big waves crashing onto the cliffs in the distance, we felt a world away from civilization; which we might actually have been…