There is not much literature about the African Nguni cattle. But there is this book “The Abundant Herds – a celebration to the Nguni cattle of the Zulu people” that’s worthwhile to read and is well illustrated. Written and illustrated by Marguerite Poland, David Hammond and Leigh Voigt and partly based on the study of Bert Schroeder (RIP). ISBN 978-1-874950-70-7; published by Fernwood Press/Random House Struik. Why I’m mentioning all this? Well… I grew up in an agricultural environment dominated by Holsteiners (and its varieties), Simmenthalers, Angus etc. in Europe. These are the most common breeds of cattle around the globe. Africa has its own cattle and we all have to credit the Zulu people for magnificent name giving (based on the hide patterns) but first of all for their efforts to keep the Nguni pure. Nguni cattle play an important role in the Zulu, Xhosa and Sotho cultures in Southern Africa. In a typical Zulu village the kraal is always the center point. It provided the villagers not only with milk and meat; it also served as bridal dowry (“lobola”). The more lighter the hide the higher the status of the owner. Shaka Zulu bred white Nguni cattle and his elite guards were recognized by their white hides. There is so much to tell about this disease resistant type of cattle. You see them grazing in Northern parts of South Africa but the last years farmers in other parts of this country discover the (commercial) advantages of this breed. In our small village for example are already 4 herds of which we know and a fifth one on its way. As I’m asked to picture Nguni cattle for a hide trader I snapshooted, by means of photographic study, quickly some Ngunis on my way to another photographic subject early this.
Every now and than you see the ‘hidden force’ of South Africa along the road having a meal. And this Xhosa farm worker in Stanford maker of every meal a colorful event. Farm workers in South Africa are in general hard workers and many of them are only paid the minimum wage of 105 Rand daily which equals 15 US-dollars for 9 hours of labour. Daily groceries (veggies, etc.) are in the South African supermarkets significant more expensive than in Europe and North America but farming in South Africa is not profitable for most of the farmers. The profits made on food end up in the pockets of traders and supermarkets and unfortunately farmers in this country are not so well organized that their voice counts.
Spirituality of native (tribal) people around the globe, from Australia to Australia, has a significant element of ancestry in it. Native people of South Africa are balancing on the edge of traditional values and the ‘comfort’ of modern times. Hence this imaginary of a Xhosa woman calling the spirits of her ancestors for guidance.
Took this shot last month. These little guys showed me around in their location (township) near our village. Forgot their names (Xhosa names are sometimes difficult to pronounce; especially for relative outsiders) but they turned out to be great guides and great friends. I learned and experienced a bit of the harsh conditions quite a few people in South Africa undergo on a daily base.
Out of gratitude for their warm and personal hospitality: