FACES OF SiSWATI. ONGOING SERIES BY JACOBUS NEL
SiSwati is a minority language in South Africa as it is only spoken by 2.7% of SA’s population. In contrast to South Africa’s minority, siSwati is spoken by the majority (95%) of Swaziland’s population. Hence being known as the language of the “Swazi” people. Most of SA’s siSwati speakers (87%) reside in Mpumalanga. This series introduces viewers to the faces of siSwati’s within these regions. It is a glimpse in to the diffusion, cultural adaptation and appropriation of contemporary siSwati speakers.
Ati, a patriarch, is a member of the of the Zion Christian church. He and his fellow comrades are actively engaged with routine praying, dancing and singing 3-times a week. ZCC members can be identified by their military-style khakis, police captain-style hats, and the star/dove badge, dependent on gender. Ati, along with 1-4 million other pilgrimers migrate to Moria (origin of ZCC) outside of Polokwane over Easter for a rowdy gathering. The church roughly has around 8-10 million followers exhibiting exponential growth since starting in 1924 with only 920 members. Unfortunately, there’s no census data on how many siSwati speakers are ZCC members. The data suggest however that ZCC is a universalizing religion as it continues to spread to neighbouring and international borders. I cannot help but wonder how ZCC diffusion will affect migration patterns of siSwati and other languages as time unfolds.
Populations in rural areas of Mpumalanga and Swaziland are categorized with high birth rates and high death rates. Swaziland has the highest prevalence of HIV-infected adults (26%) in the world which constitutes to 31% of the country’s crude death rate. This means that many Gogos are losing their adult children. Often leaving them responsible for the upbringing of several orphaned grandchildren. Wood is the main source of energy for cooking in these parts. This Gogo was harvesting wood up Emlembe mountain with one of her several grandchildren. I was humbled to observe how these ladies practice “selective cutting”, a sustainable approach to harvesting wood according to age and size. In contrast to the clear-cutting practices of corporate monoculture forestries, leaching precious nutrients from our soil which is a non-renewable resource. I admire the strength and wisdom these Gogos behold. Totally aware of the intrinsic value that Mother Nature beholds. Working with nature instead of against it.We parted worlds with a warm hug.
James reminded me of a lighthouse keeper. He is responsible for the maintenance of a generator that provides power to a satellite tower 1862m above sea level. He daily walks up the mountain from his house which is in the nearest rural settlement +-1250 m above sea level. Petrol is delivered to his house routinely in 20L containers. Sometimes he gets help from a friend. More frequently however, such as on this day, he had to carry the 20L container by himself.
CAMILLA VAN ZYL // FILM AT NIGHT
DEJI DADA // DOUBLE EXPOSURES
mATT SLATER // SURF – SKATE
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