The Ndebele Riot of Colour

The Southern Ndebele Tribe people are without a doubt South Africa’s most colourful tribe – and that within a nation that has eleven official languages. According to their oral tradition their forebears parted from the Zulu nation during the 19th Century. Then the Southern Ndebele Tribe travelled as the Matabele westward to what is now Pretoria, where they settled. Later, some migrated to the Limpopo Province in the north.

The Southern Ndebele Tribe: 19th Century Matabele Kraal
19th Century Matabele Kraal: Photo William Cornwallis Harris

The Southern Ndebele Tribe way of living expresses itself through the lavishly beaded designs the women wear. The stacked rings around their necks and arms and legs, and their trademark geometric murals on the homesteads set them instantly apart from any other nation we could think of.

The Southern Ndebele Tribe: Ndebele Village, Mpumalanga
Ndebele Village, Mpumalanga: Photo South African Tourism / CC 2.0

The Southern Ndebele Tribe

Welcome to Ndebele Village, Mpumalanga

While the family head or mnumzana oversees his entire family – and in some cases his married children and his brothers – the women are free to adorn their buildings, their blankets and their trinkets according to their culture. The brass rings a married woman carries on her neck, and arms and legs may weigh up to 20 kilograms, but they are born proudly as a status symbol.

The Southern Ndebele Tribe: Mpumalanga
Ndebele Village, Mpumalanga: Photo South African Tourism / CC 2.0

We are Happy to See You Here!

Southern Ndebele Tribe villages like these are a familiar sight on roads leading from Pretoria into the hinterland. Photographs are usually possible after exchanging suitable gifts. The official South African Tourism destination is Botshabelo Historical Village and Shop where we found these photos.

Botshabelo Craft Factory

To visit the Southern Ndebele Tribe village, depart from your hotel and join the N4 highway traveling north from Johannesburg or Pretoria. At Middleburg, take the R35 towards Groblersdal. The sign to Botshabelo is 12 kilometres out of Middleburg. You can watch the Southern Ndebele Tribe women make the souvenirs you buy. Your car rental company should provide a basic large-scale map.

The Southern Ndebele Tribe: Botshabelo Craft Factory
Botshabelo Craft Factory: Photo South African Tourism / CC 2.0

[easy2map id=790]

About Richard Farrell

Richard FarrellI tripped over a shrinking bank balance and fell into the writing gig unintentionally. This was after I escaped the corporate world and searched in vain for ways to become rich on the internet by doing nothing. Despite the fact that writing is no recipe for wealth, I rather enjoy it. I will deny I am obsessed with it when I have the time.My base is Umtentweni in South Africa on the Kwazulu-Natal South Coast (30.7167° S, 30.4667° E). I work from home where I ponder on the future of the planet, and what lies beyond in the great hereafter. Sometimes I step out of my computer into the silent riverine forests, and empty golden beaches for which the area is renowned.

Other posts by the Author

Leave a Reply