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 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
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.
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.