All aboard for a dam fine time
By Princess Nkabane and Debbie Reynolds
Durban - You’ll probably be as surprised as we were to find just how much there is to experience in Inanda – from history and culture to great outdoor adventure – and it’s all just 30 minutes from the centre of Durban.
You can start exploring this vibrant township with the “Woza eNanda” heritage tour – four hours full of surprises.
The first thing you will notice upon entering the township is that little of Inanda has changed over the years and as the tour bus nears the Phoenix Settlement, which Mahatma Gandhi once called home, you will understand why.
The area in which the international father of Satyagraha lived is still testament to his peaceful philosophy of passive resistance. The original house he lived in was destroyed in anti-apartheid turbulence, but has been rebuilt and turned into a museum. We were told Gandhi established the settlement as a place where people of all races could live harmoniously.
The entrance is lined with park benches and drummer Velaphi Dladla welcomes visitors with amusing singalong chants he makes up on the spot.
If you continue along the trail you’ll reach Ohlange High School, part of the institute founded in 1901 by John Langalibalele Dube, who was also the first president of the ANC.
Walk in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela, when he took his first democratic vote in a free South Africa, before visiting Dube’s grave and assuring Dube that he could now rest in peace as South Africa was truly free.
The school was the first African-run and African-funded educational institution in South Africa, influenced by Booker T Washington’s Tuskegee in Alabama, in the US.
Not too far away is the Inanda Seminary, another famous school where female leaders such as Barbara Masekela, Baleka Mbete, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, Thembalihle Hixonia-Nyasulu, Noluthando Orleyn and the sisters of ANC founder Dr Pixley ka Isaka Seme, Lucy and Dalita, went to school.
According to the Rev Dr Scott Couper, who was kind enough to be our guide, the school, which was founded in 1869, still boasts elite family members such as all the daughters of IFP president Mangosuthu Buthelezi. President Jacob Zuma’s daughter is also rumoured to have studied there.
You will hear how former principal Mary Edwards started the school aged 40 after being recently widowed, giving Zulu girls the chance at a decent education, which was rare at the time, and of how co-founder and missionary Lucy Lindley ran away from home after she was nearly married to a man old enough to be her father.
If you’ve never heard of the Shembe Church, this would be a good time to brush up on your knowledge, as not far from the home of Gandhi is Ekuphakameni, which, until the 1980s, was the home of the church formed by prophet Isaiah Shembe.
And while the tour is largely historical, it would not be unusual while visiting to bump into Dube’s grandson, Langa Dube, who shares an uncanny resemblance to his grandfather, or Dube’s daughter, Lulu, who along with other family members still lives in the same home as their father. You might bump into Gandhi’s granddaughter, Ela, who won’t mind sharing a memory or two.
If you’re attracted to breathtaking scenes or a romantic looking for a great proposal site, the uMzinyathi Falls will take your breath away. The waterfall, fed by the uMngeni River, is in the valley which is home to the Qadi Chiefdom. If you’re lucky, you might even meet members of a small Rastafarian community who also share the beautiful land.
Last, but definitely not least, a visit to the tranquil and scenic Inanda Dam is a must. Here, you can simply relax and soak up the scenery or you can enjoy spectacular eco adventures.
The surroundings of Inanda Dam offer more than 100km of beautiful, maintained trails with ideal conditions for mountain bikers, trail runners, hikers and watersports enthusiasts.
The Durban Green Corridor runs a trail centre adjacent to the dam which functions as a centre of all outdoor activities and offers braai and toilet facilities, as well as secure parking. For your outdoor experience, mountain bikes, canoes and kayaks are available for hire on site.
This Saturday, August 31, Inanda Dam will be the backdrop for a first-ever outdoor “eNanda Duelling Drums” performance. Gates open at 12.30pm with the show being opened by Zulu dancers at 1.15pm. This will be followed by a mesmerising performance by the touring Taiwanese group Ten Drum, who have performed in more than 50 countries around the world.
After their rousing “unplugged” show, they will be joined by a host of local drummers in a mass drumming exchange of Taiwanese and South African rhythms.
Tickets for the performance, which runs from 1pm to 3pm, are R100 from Computicket.
Refreshments and shisa nyama will be on sale, or bring your own picnic.
It is rare to find a small South African township boasting so many tourist attractions. It is even more rare for a place to have a past so central in the history and development of a nation.
For more details on the eNanda Heritage Tour contact Durban Tourism at 031 322 4169. For more details on the eNanda Adventure Tours contact 031 322 6026. - The Mercury