Scenic Mazeppa Bay where peace rules

WE cursed all the way to Cebe, an extremely rural village in Transkei, as we negotiated potholed roads.

From time to time we were held up by cattle - jokingly called Transkei robots - who napped in the sun.

Situated in Centane in the southern part of the Wild Coast region of Eastern Cape, this historic settlement with its laid-back and tranquil atmosphere is my ancestral village.

The village of Centane was established as a military post for the British in the Frontier War. The Xhosa people had their biggest loss against the British troops on this site, where almost 5000 Xhosa warriors were killed.

When you walk around the village you will see mud houses that have been built with sun-baked bricks.

This is a perfect place to enjoy rural life close up and to absorby an unconventional stay.

We travelled to Cebe for an ancestral ritual. For months, our family had been plagued by bad luck because we had neglected performing the necessary rituals.

On our arrival at this unspoilt village that blushes alluringly at roaring Mazeppa Beach, our anger gave way to joy when we were greeted by beautiful palms and tropical plants that waved for attention from a distance.

The beauty of the thatched huts and the spaciousness of the land evoked memories of a liberation song.

Thina Sizwe esintsundu sikhalela izwe lethu elathathwa ngabamhlophe. (Black people are crying for our land that was seized by whites).

As soon as the sky pulls its dark sheet over Cebe, the entire village goes into a deep slumber, making it pitch black because there is no electricity. The only place that has electricity is the distant 3-star Mazeppa Bay Hotel on Mazeppa Bay. Mazeppa was named after a small schooner captained by a Allen Mazeppa.

This area is a holiday-maker's dream. Though the houses are so far apart, Cebe is a close-knit community. Within a few minutes of our arrival in the Rwaxa household, men and women arrived to ask about our presence and to welcome us. Over freshly made bread and strong coffee our host enchanted us with the tale of why the village is not electrified.

Word is that the people of Cebe refused electricity from the government because they believed it would scare away their ancestors.

Young people blame the government for the backwardness of the area. The older generation is not opposed to civilisation and blames the former leader of the then bantustan, Kaiser Daliwonga Matanzima.

Here you will find some of the best beaches on the Transkei coast, the most popular being First Beach. It's famous for its fishing and mussel collecting.

When the moon is full and red, young and old descend on the beach to collect mussels to sell lucratively to restaurants and hotels in East London and surrounding areas. Most people's livelihood depend on the availability of these marine creatures.

Some of the smaller settlements and resorts include Mnyameni, Mthentu, Port Grosvenor, Lambasi Bay, Umngazi River Mouth, Mpande, Mdumbi, Mthatha Mouth, Lubanzi, Mpame, Bulungula, Xhora, Mbashe Mouth, Qora Mouth, Wavecrest and the Khobonqaba Mouth, where there are beaches, sites of cultural and historical significance, fishing, hiking, rock formations and scenic drives.

Mazeppa Bay is the only hotel on the Wild Coast with its very own island, which at high tide is only accessible via a quaint suspension bridge. The crossing is scary at first, but well worth the effort.

There are hiking trails and a boat cruise with an eco- nature guid, who will take you to a secret waterfall and teach you about plants and trees of the Wild Coast. You can even jump from the rocks into the rock pools below.

Whales and dolphins are often spotted along this magnificent coast from the Mazeppa Bay island.