A neighbourhood walk - through a hilly, semi-rural area
If you want a tasty slice of South African history, take a gentle stroll around the Ohlange community in Inanda, a comfortable 20 minute drive from Durban.
The Ohlange Institute has strong links to Nelson Mandela and the legendary John Langalibalele Dube, an educator, intellectual, author, philosopher, devoted Christian, liberation pioneer and the first president of the ANC. Dube founded the Institute as a Christian Industrial School in 1900 and Mandela paid tribute to him, and other liberation leaders, by returning to Ohlange in 1994 to place his vote in South Africa’s first democratic elections. But a visit to this area is not only about remembering the past. It also provides an insight into community life, an opportunity to mix with the locals and experience rural African life.
The tour lasts two hours, includes seven stops, and begins and ends at Ohlange. The expert guide is Sanele, who was raised in the area and is a product of the Ohlange Institute.
The meeting point is the simple home where John Dube once lived. The tour resembles a neighbourhood walk – through a hilly, semi-rural area with houses casually dotted among sub-tropical greenery – rather than a visit to a typical South African township with its rows of low-cost houses tightly bunched together. Accompanying Sanele is singer Nobuhle, also a proud alumni of Ohlange, who sets the mood for the tour with two haunting songs – one in English and one in Zulu.
Fittingly, and with Sanele providing an informative commentary, the tour starts with a viewing of the statue of Nelson Mandela and displays in the hall where he cast his vote on that historic day. There is also the opportunity to enjoy and purchase locally produced art and craft at the WOWZULU Marketplace.
The first part of the walk passes through a wetland area which has been rehabilitated by Durban Green corridor and then up the hill, past a crèche, to our first stop at a stately red-bricked house. Wide verandas wrapped around the house on two sides to offer a spectacular view down to the sea and Durban. This house also belonged to John Dube and it is now the residence of Lulu, his 83-year-old daughter, and family. The walk hugs the crest of the hill through a residential neighbourhood past schools, creches and a school feeding scheme, and visitors can expect a warm and enthusiastic welcome from the locals.
En route there are panoramic views of Ntuzuma, Kwa-Mashu and Phoenix, Umhlanga, Durban and the Indian Ocean along with such interesting landmarks as the Moses Mabhida Stadium and the Gandhi Settlement. There is an opportunity to eat on the hoof with a roadside container shop selling fresh and delicious ‘ingwenya’ or ‘vetkoek’ (fat cakes).
A stop at a Shembe Church temple is another highlight. The Shembe Church, which has a membership of four million temple, still has its base in Inanda. There is a visit to the Arise and Shine project which feeds 60 children every day. Traditional healer Muzi operates from his beehive hut on the premises and he will share his knowledge of different plant and animal medicines with visitors.
The day would not have been complete with a visit to the Ohlange Rock Juntion, owned by local entrepreneur Bheki Mhlongo. The tavern sits on the crest of a hill close to Ohlange and drinks and snacks are served on an airy deck which commands views to the coast. The round trip, with a number of pit stops, is completed in just on two hours and, with Sanele proving a most entertaining and informed guide, the Ohlange neighbourhood walk is a richly rewarding experience.
Written by Wilna Botha