I’m one of those weird girls, worry and stress have fuelled my existence ever since I was aware of the emotion. My mother says she used to watch me sleep in my early teen years and I always had this frown on my face like I was worried about something. I know these are bad habits, which is why I break away from time to time and go away because my stress and worry habits reach a high when I’m in Jozi.
I met Haroun at a party and he said: “would like to live in an eco-village?” is that what he said? I don’t remember but hey I was sold because I needed to take some time away from Jo’burg to cure my worry warts. I enjoyed a road trip with my Jo’burg buddies and the excitement of reaching a place I knew very little about mounted as we drove closer and closer to Umphakatsi Eco Village founded by Sarah Motha, an amazing and dynamic woman with a vision to promote self growth and sustainable livelihoods for communities’ environment at a material and spiritual level.
To be quite honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. My brother scolded me on the phone when I told him I’m spending my Easter Weekend at an Eco Village, he went like: “Why VUYO? WHY? Why do you want to go to an eco village and shit in a pit and wash in a river when you can shit in the toilet and flush and take a shower. Vuyo? Why are you always trying to be different? You such a hippie, little sis’. I give up on you…”
On the first night, we didn’t do much since we got there really late but we had a beautiful supper and met other eco-villagers. I also took my first trip to the newly built toilet, which was slightly scary because a city sleeker like myself is obviously not used to natural light, especially in the evening. It was so dark, when I stretched my hand to see if I’d be able to see it, I saw nothing without the torches. The night sky was so clear, clearer that I‘ve ever seen it since I’d been in Kenya about a year ago. Clarity.
On a personal level, being at Umphakatsi changed a lot about me. I literally changed overnight. My view on the world suddenly shifted back to a place I never thought I’d regain for the longest time, a place of innocence, simplicity and sincerity. My first concern at Umphakatsi was snakes but lovely Carolyn assured there was nothing to be scared of, there were only baby snakes here and there. Strangely enough, I left all the snakes in Johannesburg. My time before Umphakatsi had been a terrible confusing time, I like to call it entering my terrible twenties and simply being confused between what I want, need and what’s simply not good for me as much as I want it.
When we woke up the next day, I woke and went to the river to pray. Now, I won’t lie – this is probably the first time I’ve prayed since I entered my twenties but something urged me to pray by the river and I did. After that I went off to help Sarah, Jean and Tertius with the toilet, that was fun – I had a good conversation about relationships, life and love with Sarah.
Children from the village came to sing and dance for us; they’re mentored by a lovely woman, Thoko. The beauty of that moment for me reminded me that I need to get back to working with children. A place where children dwell is often filled with life, hope and love and that needs to be harnessed. Living in a place like Johannesburg, which seems to do the opposite for children through advertising, TV, the internet, etc. had me thinking that a simple way of life educates, preserves and grows the spirit of a child who will probably grow into an adult like Sarah with a vision of sustainable livelihood and self growth. After spending a day listening to beautiful songs and having a wholesome lunch cooked by mama Soozi and friends, we had a special visit from sangomas who danced and drummed for us.
By the end of the second day, I had two themes revolving around my head: Faith (in myself, others and God); Self Renewal (I won’t be a kid forever). Baby Vuyo go Bye Bye…
Day three was the long walk to the waterfall for the ceremony. It was a long walk but it was refreshing. I fell a couple of times along the river but I missed the greatest fall of all! My friend Tsholo had taken a different route with Gogo Eweld and then when they got to a certain point by the river, she slipped and tumbled all the way down to a little puddle. I’m really sad I missed that, it was hilarious from what I hear!