Did you know that South Africa has its very own breed of indigenous cattle?
The Nguni cattle, widely recognised as the most beautiful cattle in the world, were introduced to the southern part of Africa between 600 AD and 700 AD by migrating Xhosa, Zulu and Swazi people. The Nguni are prized for their beautiful multicoloured markings and are also extremely fertile and resistant to disease. They played an imporant role in the development of the people who owned them as they were used as bridal dowry. King Shaka of the Zulus bred them specifically according to their colours in order to denote his various regiments.
The Nguni today are found mainly in the northern and eastern parts of South Africa but on a recent visit to the Solms-Delta Wine Estate, one of our favourite wine estates in the Cape Winelands town of Franschhoek, my guest and I were delighted to see a few of them grazing happily on the grounds. This was a rare and unexpected treat! Although they were on the far side of the field, our guide called them and they came immediately.
It was a sunny day, we had just finished a sumptuous meal as guests of the lovely Fyndraai Restaurant on the estate and were full of the joys of spring so we spent ages just watching and photographing a few bulls, cows and calves as they grazed and showed off their magnificent colours. The inquisitive calves wanted to come closer to us but the adults became extremely protective of them so we kept out distance – they have impressive horns!
It was a double treat to be seeing them on this particular day as I was accompanied by Sarah Britten, a multi-talented and very creative artist. One of her many regular subjects is Nguni cattle and the day prior to this visit she had presented me with this coveted painting titled Crimson Bull. Sarah paints in lipstick – an unusual and interesting medium and you can see more of her work here.