As a typical man from Mani, I should have started with the presentation of the village where I come from. I am doing it now after 2 successful years of travels around the villages of Mani, mainly in the Eastern (Prosiliaki) Mani and Western (Aposkieri) Mesa Mani.
Zouda is a small village at Kotrona and now of the Municipality of Eastern Mani, which reflects important aspects of the adventurous Mani.
Historically, after the first centuries of the Byzantine Empire, the Arabic pirates appear in Aegean Sea. They used Crete as their base and became the terror of the coasts. They even bombarded the capital of Constantinople. Due to this threat, our ancestors moved to the mountains: for thousands of years they were building villages on Taygetos and Saggiaki, which proves the roughness of their character. Two big stony villages (Makrinaros-Sela) and a mountain where there is cattle-breeding activity (Axrada), declare intense human presence. The mountains here belong to the families. Many high walls, fences, threshing floors and other towers leave no doubt.
The agriculture contributed to the protection of the place from time and weather conditions. There is still the breeding of cows and small beefs. As in Homer’s time, the few farmers fill the cisterns with buckets. This gives us the chance to express our big concern for the future of local cattle breeding.
Coming back to the historical facts, around 16th cent. The Arabic threat is diminished and the Greek populations descend to the coast. Free from the empire of the state in Byzantine years, outside the Ottoman rule, people from Mani make their own terms for their survival and coexistence. The law of the stronger is the core of their philosophy. Powerful families take the important places; they build towers, the church, the cemetery, all within a complex like a fortress, a small powerful community.
If the same parts of land were asserted by another family, battles started. This also occurred in Zouda and ended 100 -150 years ago. In the area of Tethroni and Flomochori (Kafki-Vata), the war started between two families, Lekkiani and Felurides that wanted the same parts of land, including Zouda.
The war went on for ages and ended with the victory of the first. So, Lekkiani dwell in the place and later take the name Dimakögiannis.
The tower of the family shows its important strategic place. The horizon is open in Tethroni and the Lakonic bay and also Chimara and Lakadika, Flomochori in the north of Kotrona and in the south Driali and other villages.
South of Zouda, there is the stony church of Faneromeni restored by Lekka D. Lekkaki.
Up on the mountain in the village Makrinaro, the famous pilgrimage to the church of Ai Jiorgi takes place.
Dimakogianis family lives in the seven houses of Zouda. The tower near Pyrgos was bought by Eleni Mantsarea who is planning to turn it to a guesthouse, of 4 bedrooms. The water of the village is taken from a drill in Kotrona, whereas in summer when there is extra need of water the water wagons come and go.