Cramped legs, saggy face and gospel music playing in the taxi. Drunk passengers snore at the back and the driver yawns in the front. It’s 4 a.m. The amabele entombi mountain (meaning girl’s breast mountain, which is named after is breast shaped lines) with its beautiful landscapes is welcoming us. An hour and half passes before I see the sign in the road that says ‘Welcome to Whittlesea’ and my heart pumps with excitement. I have arrived in my home town. The exhausting 12 hour drive was worth it. Sada (which means at last) is the township under Whittlesea, in Queenstown-known to many as e-Hewu, in Ciskei. I wasn’t born and bred there-but every December holidays, my family and I pack our luggage and hit the road.
The moment I arrive at home the entire family comes up and smack wet lipped kisses on my mouth and forehead. My aunts and grand-mother are the biggest culprits. There are tight hugs and exclamations on how skinny or fat or dark or light skinned you are from my cousins. The list is endless. Gossip follows and we talk about what happened to the uncles left behind in Cape Town or whether my stout cousin got in trouble during the year.
The atmosphere when I am at Sada is beyond amazing. My family wakes up early, 6 am early! Everyone is talking outside and coffee is already being served. While this happens, I am still asleep dreaming about the sheep intestines with dumpling I am going to eat for lunch or the extended family I am going to see.
Sada holds a special place for because it is where I was introduced to the ancestors-where a sheep was slaughtered for me. At the age of five I was introduced as part of the clan in a ceremony which involved me eating almost an entire leg of a sheep alone, with no salt (it’s not ayoba at all)
The landscape is beautiful and the mountains seem to come to life at sunrise and sunset. I spent four weeks on those mountains when I went to initiation school. A spiritual and cultural journey that taught me a lot about the responsibility of being a man.
Zwelinzima Vavi, the Cosatu secretary general was also born and bred there. Sada Township has so much to offer with a wonderful bakery at the corner which bakes fresh-hot bread. Every Sunday, we attend the family church called Church of Christ-where both of my uncles are pastors and my cousins are the lead singers in the church choir.
Sometimes I regret that Sada is not a rural place. We have nice suburban house with electricity, roads, a hospital which is 15 minutes away and a clinic which is 10 minutes away. It is the typical township with a modern flair. I wish we had rondavels, huge kraals with cow poo, and have houses 10 km apart from each other like any typical rural area. But, unfortunately, it’s not. Though I appreciate the fact they still practice our Xhosa traditions.
I maybe born and bred in Cape Town but the beauty and sense of honesty that lives in Sada, lives in me-it’s more powerful than anything. Sada is my pride and home town.