Mama Tofu is the star attraction of Ngxingxolo village near East London in the Eastern Cape. She and her team of cultural dancers and musicians present an afternoon of demonstration, sound and local cuisine that delights visitors. It’s also a good hands-on way of learning about Xhosa history and customs.

Did you know?

A Xhosa teenage initiate girl goes into seclusion in a hut at the family homestead.

When you come to the village of Ngxingxolo in the district of Mooiplaas near Cintsa (also known as Chintsa) in the Eastern Cape, just ask for Mama Tofu.

Your journey will take you from the busy N2 highway right down to a rutted village track where pedestrians include prize roosters and speckled pigs.

It’s worth it, because once you enter Mama Tofu’s homestead you will be enveloped in the best of Xhosa culture and hospitality. And, of course, a meeting with the legendary Mama Tofu and the benefit of more than 90 years of wisdom, is priceless.

You are met by a troupe of girl dancers and some older women singing and beating the cowhide drums.

'Now,' says the sage old Mama Tofu. 'Let me explain to you about Xhosa customs. A custom is something you must always keep your hand on – you cannot reject it.'

Her expertise lies in the area of female initiation. Although the Xhosa culture does not practise female circumcision, there is a wealth of ritual and rite involved in becoming a Xhosa woman. And there’s none better than Mama Tofu to help the young girls in their passage to adulthood.

Also featured on a trip to Ngxingxolo village are extensive dance displays, a wide variety of local crafts for sale and, if you'd like, a rousing demonstration of stick-fighting by men – a very popular local sport. Then, as is the custom, they feed you: umnqusho (samp and beans), mfino (cabbage, spinach and mealie pap porridge), steamed bread, fried dumplings and lamb stew.

Travellers visiting East London and the Wild Coast should never leave without stopping by and paying their respects to Mama Tofu. Speak to the guests at the backpackers’, local self-catering establishments and lodges and you will hear excellent feedback from afternoons spent with Mama Tofu and the villagers of Ngxingxolo.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Imonti Tours
Velile Ndlumbini
Tel: +27 (83) 487 8975
Fax: +27 (86) 694 0319
Email: velile@imontitours.co.za

How to get here

It lies in the Chintsa area of the Eastern Cape - but a guide is recommended.

Tours to do

Other tours offered by Imonti include harbour tours, city tours, and the Nelson Mandela Freedom Trail tour.

Get around

With a registered guide, either in his vehicle or yours.

What will it cost

A tour will cost you approximately R400 per person, depending on the size of the group (the smaller it is, the more expensive it will be per person) and the operator.

Length of stay

An afternoon visit.

What to eat

Local Xhosa dishes will be served at the village.

Best buys

Xhosa crafts on sale at the village.