Once out of the main towns, typical Transkei villages hug the hilltops where the houses look like scattered petals from afar.

Some houses appear to be isolated some distance from each other. Here is a homestead at dawn.

Many houses are clustered close to the roads, as seen in the photograph below. Note that a few of the demarcated fields have the remains of last season’s mealie crop in them. Some of the dwellings here would have access to electricity – as you can see from the poles marching along the edge of the dirt road. Most of the houses here have been built in a fairly modern style and you might note that even the rondavels are roofed with corrugated iron instead of the traditional thatch.

This is a very typical homestead: two thatched rondavels and a rectangular dwelling with a slanted corrugated iron roof. The metal structure on the right of the photograph is an outside toilet and the pile of wood in front of it would be used for cooking fires. The doors are all stable doors. This is one of the few homesteads near the Swell Eco Lodge that used electricity. Note the enclosed vegetable garden and the laundry drying on the fence posts.

Further inland, these houses are close to one of the main roads. Note the use of a green plastic rain tank in the background and the variety of housing styles that have been used.

While the traditional rondavels appear to be giving way to more modern designs, the former provide a wonderful view, clustered as they are on a hill, when seen at sunset.

NOTE: Please click on a photograph if you want a larger view.

15 thoughts on “TRANSKEI VILLAGES

    • Mostly, yes. The grannies are often left in charge of these smallholdings while their children work in larger cities to earn money and come home for weekends and holidays. Obviously there are families who choose to remain and who eke a living from the land.


    • The more traditional ones are made of wood and mud (wattle and daub), but many are now built from cement air bricks and the more modern one from fired bricks. It seems that various families / clusters of homes are painted in a single colour; some vary this by adding a particular pattern that is common to the dwellings on that homestead. Most colours are bright: pink, blue, yellow, and green are favourite ones, although we saw several painted in a bright mauve.

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  1. Despite knowing the hardships faced by the inhabitants of these rural villages, it’s impossible not to notice that they almost invariably are friendly, welcoming, and happy!


  2. Interesting to see the rural landscape, those rolling hills and wild coast. The traditional rondawels really fit against the backdrop; though guessing the corrugated iron roofs are a lot easier to construct and maintain than the thatch.


    • Not only that, but scouring the landscape for suitable wood and grass is not easy for there is little of the latter – well, at this time of the year anyway – as the cattle, goats and sheep graze the area throughout the year. Different types of grass is used according to its availability in different parts of the country e.g. Hyparrhenia hirta (generally known as common thatching grass) in KZN, Hyperphilia dissoluta (commonly known as yellow thatching grass) in the Northern Province and Mpumalanga, and Hyparrhenia filipendula (commonly known asfine thatching grass) along the coast.


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