Traditional Weddings, Rural beauty and That One Aunt

It’s the early hours of the morning. We are deep in the Eastern Cape Province discovering how cold it can actually get there at night. Although we’re wrapped up tight, the cold surreptitiously coaxed its way through our tightly woven blankets and mercilessly punches us. Curled up in a ball, the rustling sound of a body catches my attention. I awake to hear my cousin whisper, “Psst…Thanks for making me go back into the house to fetch a blanket.” I hear this and chuckle inwardly. Loathe to move and lose my warm spot by laughing out loud, I make a mental note to have a good laugh at him in morning. We were actually warned about how cold it was but we thought “It’s early December, how cold could it possibly be, right?


Weddings in our family always involve a road trip at some point. Our family is born and bred in South Africa’s cultural melting pot of Johannesburg. So no one seems to ever be dating a fellow home-grown Joburger. So, family weddings have taken us to Tzaneen, Pietermaritzburg, Durban, Lesotho and now Mhlanga.

Dordrecht Wedding

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Shake That Thang

Over the weekend, my family accompanied my brother to the “umembeso” of his bride in Lesotho. This involved meeting her family, dressing her in our cultural attire and welcoming her to the family. The journey was long and eventful. It was there that we learned that every road had has a potholed lining.

 Part of the escort involves traditional dancing, “kutshina,” and singing. When the moment arrives we dressed in our ‘nwandzhindzhani’(one variation of a traditional Shangaan skirt) and armed with a multitude of wedding songs, made our way up the bumpy road, yet smartly lined with neatly manicured gardens, to the brides house.

“Kutshina,” in my opinion, is a lot more complicated that it looks. I’m told by my aunts and cousins that the key is to move your hips and not your bum. I must not have been concentrating in biology class when we studied the anatomy because it seems to me that your hips and bums are pretty much in the same region. So how do you move one without the other? After hours of practice and actual performance, I still cannot move my hips without moving my bum.
At the height of happiness, one can jump forward; spin mid-air and cause the skirt to flutter. This is apparently where the bum plays a role as it is what causes the skirt to move? Not only do my hip shaking skills suck. My mid-air jump does too. I’m told it’s not pointy toed swan lake dance. I’m probably among the small group of black people who need dance moves explained to them. In fact, I imagine many black people reading this post are simultaneously effortlessly moving their hips and not their bums right now
Honestly, the best thing to do in a situation like this is firstly, ignore the bride and groom laughing uncontrollably at you. Rather revert to what you know works in every situation…the funky chicken, the robot and (my own creation) the turn around, where you simply sway to the music and turn around. You might as well laugh too.
My brothers friend overheard members of the brides’ family saying:
“Who is that girl?”
“That’s the grooms’sister, remember? The one who was living in China.”
“Oh! That explains why she is dancing like that. Shame, she must have forgotten how to their dances.”
It’s not your dance moves that count.
You came.
You laughed.
And most importantly…you danced.