Ten Crazy Weeks

The last ten weeks have been by far the busiest since my arrival in South Africa over six years ago. They were exciting, interesting and exhausting.

But there was no time for blogging. Nevertheless here are my twenty favorite images from this period. I hope you enjoy the pictures!

No kidding – that sign is appropriate! | Canon 1D Mark IV – f3.5-5.6 – 28-300mm L
A Cheetah chasing an Impala – taken during a photo shoot game drive at a Thanda Wedding in August | Canon 1D Mark IV – f3.5-5.6 – 28- 300mm
An aerial image of a painting session in the bush. Johan Falkman, a painter from Sweden, started his three month residency at Thanda Safari’s Intibane Lodge | Drone DJI Phanton IV Pro
Mariana Venter (Thanda Wildlife Manager) opens the cage for a new Cheetah lady arriving at Thanda | Canon 1D Mark IV – f3.5-5.6 – 28- 300mm
A happy day – I delivered my first set of goodies to the Inkanyiso Creche | iPhone 7 Plus
One of many images from a multi-day photo shoot at Thanda Tented Camp | Drone DJI Phanton IV Pro
A most pleasant site inspection – Thonga Beach Lodge – A fabulous place | Drone DJI Phanton IV Pro
An afternoon of relaxation at my favorite hide at Mkuze Game Reserve – Bird, birds, birds … | Canon 1D Mark – f2.8 – 300mm L
Photo shoot at Tembe Elephant Park – one of my favorite National Parks | Canon 1D Mark IV – f3.5-5.6 – 28-300mm
My favorite image from a two day safari with friends from Richards Bay | Canon 1D Mark IV – f3.5-5.6 – 28- 300mm
Zulu Mamas providing entertainment for a group of guests from The Netherlands – what a rare occasion to be able to take pictures of the ladies at daylight | Canon 1D Mark IV – f2.8 – 70-200mm
A few game drives with a Media Group from South Africa – The male Lions ‘performed’ beautifully | Canon 1D Mark IV – f3.5-5.6 – 28- 300mm
With a Pakamisa riding and photo group at the beach in St.Lucia – I love the place | Canon 1D Mark IV – f2.8 – 70- 200mm
The busiest week ever – I was hosting a film team at Thanda for seven days to take footage for a new brand film – these are some of the models – three Humans and a Lion | Canon 1D Mark IV – f3.5-5.6 – 28- 300mm
A community visit to my favorite homestead – the ‘master of the house’ explaining his daily schedule to the guests | iPhone 7 Plus
And another Media Group – this time from the UK – our Lions were most impressive | Canon 1D Mark IV – f3.5-5.6 – 28- 300mm
Two new male Cheetahs on the reserve – the coalition is doing well | Canon 1D Mark IV – f3.5-5.6 – 28- 300mm
Our older Cheetah male vocalizing as he met the new-comers – they went their separate ways – no harm done | Canon 1D Mark IV – f3.5-5.6 – 28- 300mm
Rutting in October – these Impala males were sparring and fighting at the wrong time of the year 🙂 | Canon 1D Mark IV – f2.8 – 300mm L
And last my favorite shot of them all – Dung Beetles at work – burrowing their ball in the ground – gone in five minutes – macro photography from a distance 🙂 | Canon 1D Mark IV – f4 – 500mm L

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Bheki’s Father …

Since 2012 I work together with my friend and tracker Bheki Ngubane. Today I visited his community to take pictures of many of his family members. This is a picture of the man I wanted to meet for a long time. He is Bheki’s father, 93 years old, the proud husband of eight wives and father of 65 children. More about him and his community will follow soon …

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The two weddings!

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As most of you know I live in the heart of Zululand, a region reigned by the hereditary King of the Zulu people.

Most Zulus today are members of Christian churches, but they are also still firmly rooted in traditions involving the spirits of their ancestors. As a result many Zulus will have two wedding ceremonies in one day, when they want to tie the knot for life. I was invited by one of my Zulu colleagues to capture his wedding. This is the resulting picture report.

The day started with the Christian wedding ceremony in the garden of a local hotel with everyone in modern dress. It was followed by a reception in the community hall. The traditional wedding ceremony commenced in the early afternoon at the groom’s homestead.

The process – from the arrival of the bride’s family in the early morning hours, their traditional ‘camping’ under a tree in the vicinity, the slaughter of a few cows to feed the large wedding party, the preparation of the groom’s family including a visit to the ancestral hut on the property, the approach of the bridal party to the groom’s homestead, the dancing and singing, the interview of the bride by the wedding official and the delivery of the wedding gifts to the grooms’ family – was following a strict protocol with the main aim to please the ancestors.

As normal in Zulu tradition love and emotion between women and men are not displayed publicly, so a handshake between Nothando – the bride – and Muzikayise – the groom – was the equivalent of the wedding kiss after the couple was officially married.

I learned a lot more about the Zulus and their traditions that day, but the main lesson was that they love to sing and dance, to have fun and to please their ancestors!

Enjoy the pictures!

A brotherly fight!

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As many other peoples – who have existed for a long time – the Zulu people have a lot of customs and traditions.

I am now living for over three years in Zululand and I have tried to learn about the Zulus as much as possible. Even if I have not improved my Zulu language skills by much (isiZulu is quite difficult to learn and I am a bit on the lazy side when it comes to learning languages) I was able to observe quite a lot. Bheki Ngubane, my Zulu tracker and friend, has taught me much about his people and I was invited on some special days to the local communities.

This is a picture of Bheki (on the right) having a friendly ‘demonstration’ fight with his brother Mbongeni. When the Zulus have an occasion to celebrate – for example at a wedding – the men like to test their strength in such fights. A specially appointed Induna yenzinsizwa (fight leader) makes sure that these confrontations do not get out of hand. In this picture both brothers wear traditional men’s cloths, made from animal skins, mainly from cows and goats. And do not worry; the leopard skins around their necks are artificially made. Nowadays such traditional attire is mostly worn on special occasions and also when going to church services (similar to ‘Kilts in Scotland’ and ‘Lederhosen in Bavaria’).

Behki is a typical example of a Zulu man, living in a rural area. He wears modern cloth, works on Thanda as a tracker, drives a small car, uses cell phone technology to communicate with his family and friends – mostly by texting – and enjoys watching TV at his room at base camp.

But he is also the husband to two wives, has nine children and lives with his family on a large plot of land on Lake St.Lucia. At his home he has no access to electricity or to running water. His first wife and some her older children spend part of their days collecting water for a central point in the community and collecting firewood from the forest. Bheki comes from a very traditional background. His father had eight wives, 40 daughters and 25 sons. As a married man – with more than one wife – Bheki is a much respected man in his local community. It helps that the local Induna yesizwe (equivalent to a major) is his uncle and the Inkhosi (equivalent to a chief or governor) of his community is his nephew :-).

Quite a few of my blog followers have expressed interest in these subjects, so over the next couple month I will write a few more blogs about Zulu customs and traditions, and always with pictures 🙂

Please let me know if you have any questions or interest in specific topics and I will try to cover them. Siyabonga (Thank you in isiZulu).