A Travellerspoint blog

Day 31

The Mgcamabele Community Centre and a big creature

sunny 42 °C
View Needham's in South Africa 2024 on NeedhamSA2024's travel map.

Ever since we knew we would stay at Kwandwe we have been looking forward to today.

You can probably tell that in addition to enjoying the many comforts we have been fortunate to experience, we like to learn as much as we can about local culture and of course wildlife.

Kwandwe is committed to making a positive and lasting difference in the rural Eastern Cape, one of South Africa’s least developed provinces. Working through their social development partner, the Ubunye Foundation, they invest in projects that improve lives and create sustainable opportunities in marginalised rural communities.

An allocation of land on the reserve plus the facilitation and construction of the Mgcamabele Community Centre occurred as a result. On-site Pre-school and aftercare services are provided for the children of their staff, with meals served daily. And it is to the Mgcamabele Community Centre that we visit this morning.

We were asked not to take photos of the children and so we duly obliged but https://www.kwandwe.com/giving-back/ provides more details as to the initiatives of the Ubunye Foundation and the community centre.

When we arrived, the class of around 11 children were singing 'Heads, shoulders, knees and toes'. What better way to break the ice than to join in. Viewed with some suspicion, they non the less continued their song while keeping a close eye on these strange looking oldies behaving like it was perfectly natural for us to be stretching for our knees and toes. They seamlessly moved onto the 'Wheels on the Bus'.

We were asked whether we would like to read to the children. Absolutely. I had already spotted Fox in Socks which I had read to my own children many moons ago. I had forgotten what a tongue twister it is and they giggled when I tripped up or ran out of breath. Susan's turn. A much more sedate story about a puppy. By this stage they were warming to us. In Joburg while thinking ahead, we had bought footballs, bouncy balls, SA footy shirts, Frisbees, crayons, colouring books and other items we thought might be of use. We presented these to Asi who carefully distributed something to each child. We pumped up the footballs and in no time the entire class with Susan & I were running around the school yard like nutters. It was great fun and the children were kicking or bouncing balls and throwing Frisbees in every conceivable direction. We had bought stickers that had variations of 'well done' and each with an African animal. We gave one to each child who took great pride (no pun) in wearing it. They asked that I make the noise of the animal that corresponded with their sticker. When it came to the elephant, I made a noise so loud it initially made a couple scream out. Thankfully, tears did not follow. After a couple of hours, it was time for their snack break and rest and for us to take our leave. It had been such a fun morning and I was grateful to them that I was able to kick a football again for the first time in weeks. The Foundation and the Community Centre are truly having a positive impact on wildlife and community and it is a privilege to witness. Again, so many people who have so little give up so much to help others. As the African proverb in the photo below says, 'A person is a person because of other persons'. I couldn't have said it better myself.

Of note, the school was opened by the widow of Steve Biko. You may know the name from the wonderful 1987 film Cry Freedom, starring Denzel Washington and Kevin Kline.


It is seriously bloody hot today with temps expected to reach 42c. The Germans have now left (I'm aching to quote many lines now from Fawlty Towers 'The Germans' but despite my own strong German heritage, rather than risk not being politically correct, I shall simply suggest that you watch the episode on YouTube if you don't know to what I refer. It's very politically incorrect but very funny). Apologies to any family or friends if I have offended!

I have things I need to do, so for the afternoon safari, Susan had her own private guide.

Due to the afternoon heat, Matt says there is little point trying to locate Leopard so they set off in pursuit of a tower of giraffe. A tower is a suitable name for a group of animals with such large frames.

But on the drive, a troop of monkeys are causing mayhem. Much louder than their usual cacophony of communication. Then out of the bushes runs a buffalo in pursuit of, drum role.......... a leopard. After all the time we have been on safari, one is briefly spotted against all the odds of the African afternoon heat. It was clearly too close to a buffalo cub and now the leopard was gone. Or so they thought. So a short while later, it appeared in the open again some distance from the buffalo and this time it was much more obliging for the camera. Susan and Matt spent some time being able to appreciate this glorious cat. Susan had indeed seen the catrick and all the big 5.

The English name "leopard" comes from Old French leupart or Middle French liepart, that derives from Latin leopardus and ancient Greek λέοπάρδος (leopardos). I bet they didn't teach you that in school!

The leopard is a slender and muscular cat, with relatively short limbs and a broad head. Leopards from the Cape Province in South Africa are generally smaller than other regions, reaching only 20–45 kg (44–99 lb) in males. The maximum recorded weight of a wild leopard in Southern Africa was around 96 kg (212 lb), and it measured 262 cm (103 in). Hardly a pet cat though.

Their diet fluctuates with prey availability, which ranges from strong-scented carrion, fish, reptiles, and birds to mammals such as rodents, hares, warthogs, antelopes, and baboons.



Later on the safari, they came across a herd of elephant with young. This calf was so young, it was still unable to control its own trunk.


In my excitement of telling you about the Rhino experience, I forgot to say that later that evening (Day 30) we went for an evening safari and came across the the 4 lion cubs that we had spotted after dark a couple of nights back. This time, the pride were united and with them were two males. How cute?!;

Posted by NeedhamSA2024 09:42 Archived in South Africa

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