Zulu Village Project

muzi-isandhillIn a small village in one of the most rural areas of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, lie The Isandlwana Lodge (ee-san’-dla-wanna) and village. The natural beauty of this area is only surpassed by the rich cultural heritage of the Zulu people whose traditional crafts, native language and strong leadership demonstrate the importance of cultural conservation. However when WILD was introduced to the village, there was virtually no economic opportunities & a high unemployment rate, very poor education systems, poor drinking water supply, limited local food production and numerous other social and environmental concerns.

Since it started in 1999, the Zulu Village Project fosters self-reliance, enhances traditional culture and instills environmental awareness. The villagers named the project “Impumelelo yeSandlwana” – Success for the People of Isandlwana. Since its inception, the people of Isandlwana have created this success themselves – each WILD initiative works to build local leadership and economy while fostering cultural traditions and environmental stewardship.

Read the history of the Isandlwana Lodge and the Zulu Village Project >>>

Managed locally, under the quiet but determined leadership of Elizabeth Dhlamini (Ms. D), a team of local leaders and coordinator Samantha Terblanche, the Zulu Village Project is flourishing, with new initiatives each year.

Support opportunities in the Village through our joint program with Isandlwana Lodge >

Currently underway are:

  • Sustainable Food Projects: Organic Gardens, Fruit Orchard and Chicken Production
  • Soil erosion projects; Micro-lending program with 100% payback; Read about Embocraft: Conservation, Community & Craftwork
  • A traditional youth dance group, winning awards around the province
  • An active soccer-team, practicing and playing local matches
  • Environmental Learning through Eco-Schools

Read about the “Introduction to Eco-Schools” Workshop, 26 May 2008 >>>
Various Education related projects, including Edu-peg >>>

Here’s a quick, inside look. Click here for:

* Typical report to a supporter, 2005;
* Report on one of many training courses in the ZVP.

Start up report from Carol Batrus (January 2000)

Carol Batrus, WILD’s Community Development Advisor, with iNkosi Mazibuko, hereditary chief of the Zulus at Isandlwana, South AfricaI live in Isandlwana, the site of the famous Zulu victory over the British in 1879 and traditional home of the Mangwe-Buthanani Zulu clan. The 100 square kilometers of Kwa-Zulu Natal Province is open grassland with 20,000 people, including a small village surrounding an Anglican mission. With the exception of the four buildings in the mission complex, the tribal area has no phones, electricity or running water. Most people live in mud and thatch rondavels (round huts). Internet highway? Walk to a home site (muzi), and if the person you want is there, great…. if not, well, try again later…time makes no difference.

Our project is in conjunction with The Lodge at Isandlwana (a tourism initia-tive owned by Magalen Bryant and Pat Stubbs, two remarkable American women). “Isandlwana – Action for Community and Tourism”, or I-ACT, will provide training and help develop sustain-able projects to improve the environmental, economic and physi-cal health of the people and their land. I work directly with the tra-ditional tribal ruler, iNkosi (Chief) Mazibuko. In 1999, the iNkosi was sent to the US to attend a two-month training program for leaders from developing nations, where he studied English, government, and computers. It was his first trip outside his province.

The young iNkosi is a thoughtful, progressive leader anxious to create what he calls “transformations” in the tribal government, such as including women – not an easy concept for either the Tribal Council (all older men), or tribal women who have little time or cultural support to participate in the governing process. To assist him we are in the process of selecting a development trainee from the tribe. Contrary to traditional norms, the communi-ty agrees that the development trainee should be a woman. Their reasoning is — if you want to get something done, as opposed to talking about it, you need a woman to do it. I like that.

My counterpart will learn about computers, management, leader-ship, and resources outside the community, with the end goal of having her assume responsibility for coordinating community development. If the projects are to succeed, the local people must be in control, with direct input and a vested interest in the outcome.

With the input of respected advisors we have identified a number of near and long-term projects that are either in process (such as developmental help for the traditional dance group, English language tutor-ing for women, soil reclamation) or in plan-ning (such as supply of clean water, a Community Conservation Area, medicinal plants). But it’s early days yet. The Tribe has been on this land for many generations….our project is a mere 12 months old. Stay tuned.

-Carol Batrus

Read more about Carol’s time in KwaZulu-Natal in When Elephant’s Fly: One Woman’s Journey from Wall Street to Zululand >>>