Shakaland's setting is perfect. Nearly 200 years ago, the great African chief Shaka, at the height of his powers, established his military headquarters close-by.
Modelled on a traditional Zulu umuzi (family kraal), the complex was built around a boma. The hotel bedrooms, beehive huts built of mud and thatched to within three feet of the ground, are grouped in clusters of 10 or so, each with a Zulu name. There is Kwawuhlamehlo (place of the closed eyes), Kwabonamanzi (place where you see the water) and others.
|Kwabonamanzi - Place where you see the water|
Inside the hut it was cool and dark; its single window a shuttered square cut into the clay looked over a valley where at night the waters of Umhlatuze Lake shone pale silver in the moonlight.
It was an enchanting place but not without surprises. As I stepped into the bath later that evening I pushed the rickety shutter covering the bathroom window expecting it to open just a fraction. Suddenly, with a deafening crash the shutter fell to the ground leaving a gaping 1 metre square hole in the wall. Directly opposite the opening, a path of light streamed from our neighbour’s front door and I stood stark naked in the spotlight.
More to follow ...
Photo copyright Anne Gordon
Posted on Sunday, 18th September, 2011