The Wild Coast, home to the Xhosa speaking peoples, is one of the only parts of the country still governed by both traditional and government authorities. Each village has a “Headman” who is the “go to” person for community related problems and resolution. Within a cluster of villages is the “Chief” who takes overall responsibility for the villages in his area including supporting community members with issues, meeting regularly with the Headmen and advocating on behalf of their communities to various stakeholders and government departments.
Many visitors have commented that the Wild Coast feels like the “real” Africa as they imagined it would be – rondavels (huts) dot the hillsides, people greet each other by name in the street and cattle roam freely, and are highly valued in monetary terms by the community.
Ceremonies are an important social function to not only celebrate or commiserate, but also to allow the sharing of hospitality and the opportunity to see family or friends who may live far away. This is best explained as “Ubuntu”, roughly translated to mean “together-ness” or “as one” and preparations for events such as weddings, funerals and boys coming of age to manhood are a great excuse to gather and work together to support the families involved. As such, invitations are always open and everyone is always welcome regardless if the only thing you can give is your time.
There are many traditional ceremonies that still take place today, while at the same time the community has adopted and embraced new ideas and new technologies. Everyone takes advantage of the convenience of a mobile phone and many are active on social media and news sites, entirely transforming how they receive information and news from around the world.
Our cultural tours are a good way to experience contemporary life in a rural Xhosa community. Let our local guide take you to his village in the hills, where you can experience the day-to-day living of his people and find out more about one of South Africa’s many fascinating cultures.
When Coffee Shack first started, our Headman invited us to his home to share in his family’s dinner and celebrate the making of new friends. This progressed to what we now call Village Dinner and every Friday we are invited by one of three families to attend a traditional dinner, song and dance. Be treated to a warm Xhosa welcome, enjoy a home cooked traditional dinner, join the dancing if you can keep up with the energetic Mamas and return to Coffee Shack under the (mostly!) starry African sky.
On top of all of that, we have regular performances from youth groups and there is also the option to arrange a Church visit on Sundays. Religion has also found a way to-exist with traditional beliefs and you will be a welcomed guest. Let the voices wash over you and enjoy the different sounds and style of worship.
The increase in tourism in Coffee Bay has brought about mostly beneficial changes; however tourism can also have negative side effects, and like other communities in the world, we also have our fair share of problems. There are some local people who may ask for money or try to sell marijuana and for all that we cannot condone this. At the same time they are generally only trying to survive in an area with unemployment at over 60%. If you take the time to find out their stories, you may enjoy an interesting chat with them, and everyone appreciates a little humour! Please feel free to talk with us anytime about these issues or if you’re interested in learning more about how you can help us to help others improve their lives and futures.