In addition to the cultural and travel history experiences in the Cape, students will spend part of the semester living in the KwaZulu-Natal Province, a region fused with African, European, and Asian cultural influences and home to a physical terrain that ranges from rugged mountains to deserts to tropical beaches. The program base in KwaZulu-Natal is the African Enterprise Conference Center. It is located in a nature reserve near the city of Pietermaritzburg, a town that mingles a majority Zulu population with Victorian buildings, Hindu temples, and Asian shops.
Pietermaritrzburg, the capital of KwaZulu-Natal, is a city full of history, culture, and adventure. The town is a mix of Boer, British, Indian, and Zulu cultures, and offers a wide variety of museums, Hindu temples, and historic sites to be explored. Nicknamed the “City of Flowers,” Pietermaritzburg has many botanical gardens, beautiful hiking trails, gorgeous waterfalls, and the largest walk-in butterfly center in South Africa. Pietermaritzburg also features beautiful Victorian and Edwardian architecture, numerous art galleries, and local craft and farmer’s markets. Other available outdoor activities include mountain biking, white water rafting, and wind surfing.
Population: 553,223 (2001)
Languages: Zulu (75%), English (22%), Afrikaans (2%), Xhosa (1%). A growing number of French refugees (estimated at about 30,000) from Central Africa add an international flavor to the city.
Race: Black (77%), Asian (12%), White (8%), Colored (3%)
Background: Pietermaritzburg is the second largest city in KwaZulu-Natal province, after Durban, and is also the provincial capital. It was established by the Boers, who trekked from the Cape (called Voortrekkers). When they clashed with the Zulu people under Dingaan, they moved inland to settle in the Msunduzi valley. The Boers named the city by combining the first name of their leader, Pieter Retief, with the surname of the leader of the second trek, Gert Maritz. In 1843, the British took over the city and there is still clear evidence of colonial architecture from that period. The Zulus continue to call the city Umgungundlovu, meaning “Place of the Elephant”.
The provincial government sits in the legislative buildings in Pietermaritzburg. The name, KwaZulu-Natal, is a composite name agreed upon after 1994, to honour both the Zulu kingdom and the former provincial name of Natal. The Zulu monarch, King Goodwill Zwelethini kaBhekuzulu, is provided a stipend by the government, but does not hold any direct political power. However, he continues to hold considerable sway over the thinking of the Zulu people in the province.
African Enterprise Conference Center
During students’ first six weeks on the beautiful grounds of the African Enterprise Conference Center, they take two elective courses from among the General Studies courses offered, or 8 units of MODL 101/102 (Zulu). Students have the opportunity to interact with local university students, worship with local churches, and to engage in local area service opportunities. Nestled in the lush Town Bush Valley, about 10 km from Pietermaritzburg, the African Enterprise Conference Center houses dorm rooms, classes, and common areas for recreation, worship, and fellowship.
Students are housed in dorm rooms that fit two persons to a dorm. Some dorms are comprised of suites with 4-5 rooms around a common living area. Daily meals are served in the common dining area.