An African Wedding: Part 2

If you missed the first part, click here to read Part One

Themba and Keke’s Botswana wedding continues…

After leaving the lobola ceremony, Petra and I hurried back to our lodgings to change into our wedding clothes. By now it was mid morning and the sultry mid-summer Botswana heat was beginning to intensify. Beads of sweat were gathering and it was a relief to shed our head scarves and shawls, which had been a necessary part of the earlier ceremony. We gathered our belongings and joined the rest of the convoy that was traveling to the wedding venue. My head was spinning from a cocktail of emotions… the euphoria of what we had just experienced, the anticipation of what was to come, the thrill of driving through countryside that I hadn’t seen in nearly 40 years, and the joy of sharing this experience with a long time friend, a kindred soul who I see so very rarely. It was so good to be on holiday and so good to feel alive!

After about an hour, we pulled off the main road and through the gates of the Bahurutshe Cultural Lodge and were shown to the chalet where we had been booked in for the night.

The entrance to the Bahurutshe Cultural Lodge, the main wedding venue

The entrance to the Bahurutshe Cultural Lodge, the main wedding venue

We off loaded our bags and walked down a narrow bush path to the Kgotla, the courtyard where the wedding was due to take place. People were beginning to gather and some, who had not attended the lobola ceremony, had been there for a while, waiting patiently for the wedding party to arrive. It was sweltering hot, and unlike Petra who was accustomed to the temperatures of Namibia and Limpopo, I found myself ducking for cover in the shade of the ochre coloured huts. Even in the shade, there was little relief from the hot and humid conditions, so we drank copious quantities of water to compensate.

Not long after we had settled ourselves, Themba and his entourage arrived and I made the most of the opportunity to get some photographs.

With the photo shoot complete, I returned to the venue just as the bride’s car pulled in. Behind me, Themba and his warriors were starting to move down the hill, their deep base voices filling the air with Zulu song… a thrilling sound that got the crowds instantly onto their feet. They moved into the courtyard,where they put on a stirring display of Zulu dance.

Themba awaits his bride with a rousing display of Zulu dance and song

Themba awaits his bride with a rousing display of Zulu dance and song

The groomsmen and bridesmaids arrive. From the back: Gabaza and Mlu and Fatima and Masi

The groomsmen and bridesmaids arrive. From the back: Gabaza and Mlu and Fatima and Masi

Keke arrives with her uncle

Keke arrives with her uncle Emmanuel Mekgwe

Click on the images below to watch the events unfold:

At intervals throughout the wedding there were wonderful displays of traditional dancing

Whilst we were all eating and dancing, Themba and Keke had slipped away to change their outfits in preparation for the next stage of the wedding. A little while later, our festivities were interrupted by the sound of men singing, and through the gates came Themba and his group, dressed once more in traditional Zulu regalia. Themba put on a fine performance of Zulu dancing, singing and swaggering as he displayed his virile manhood.

Then a car pulled in alongside the huts and quietly, serenely, out stepped a breathtakingly beautiful Keke. The crowd, who had been cheering Themba on, suddenly went hushed, and immediately looked to see how Themba would respond. Keke had change out of her traditional Tswana bridal clothes, and was now proudly resplendent in the Zulu garments that she had been given by Themba’s family. She looked stunning, beautifully made up, with a proud and regal bearing. Themba did a double take when he saw her and for the first time all day, he looked at a loss for words. The expression on his face was priceless!

Members of Themba’s family swung in to give him support, and both his sister and mother entered the arena to dance. Then Keke stepped forward and showed them that she too knew how to dance a Zulu dance, supported by the cheers of an enthusiastic crowd. The play between the family members was wonderful to watch, the air electric with the subtle shift in the dynamic as Keke made Themba work hard to impress her, before proudly taking her place as his wife.

It was a monumental performance, made all the more exciting because of the love between the principal players. Everyone could feel the chemistry between them, which had a ripple effect for the rest of the evening, with so much love and goodwill between everyone who was there. It was the most remarkable aspect of the wedding, the warmth, the joy and love that permeated the air. No one wanted to go home, and as we were heading towards midnight, most of the guests were still there, dancing under the starlit sky, despite the fact that many of us had had little sleep. It was one of those occasions that I couldn’t drag myself away from, wanting to hold it in my heart forever.

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A hug from my friend Themba

However, common sense finally prevailed, and before the midnight hour, we made our way up the dark pathway to our chalet and finally went to bed. As I lay in the darkness, I had a sense that I had just witnessed and experienced one of the most unique and beautiful weddings that I am ever likely to be a part of.

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Categories: Inspiration | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “An African Wedding: Part 2

  1. Cath Henninger

    Hi Sal- what an experience! Your photos (as usual) capture the atmosphere so well…and the joyous, humorous and affectionate exchanges which passed between the bridal pair. Thank you for sharing that.

  2. Great blog, Sal – really captures the joyousness of the occasion – Ant

  3. Great! Thanks for sharing this.

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