What can I say. This really is one of those occasions where "you had to be there" to truly appreciate the sights, the sounds and the colors.
The theme for our branch party was "A Cultural Celebration". The members were to come dressed in their traditional costumes, do traditional dances, tell stories, and recite poems. What a party!!!
If we would have award prizes. Patrick and Nomsa would have won the prize for best dressed couple. Most of the traditions and rituals of Xhosa people are all about what they are wearing; the hang of the hat, the color of the dress, and the bibs, bracelets and beads suspended from their bodies. Few words need to be spoken to convey the status of a person in Xhosa society. By the way the women wear their clothing you can tell if they are married, single, or widowed. In most Xhosa communities, it is all about the headpiece. The more elaborate the hat, the more senior the wearer. The beadwork also speaks much of their status in life and surrounding community. Nomsa is wearing a beautiful hand beaded necklace as is Patrick wearing a bandelo of beads.
And the drums! My, oh my. We pulled up to the church, got out of the car, and President Wheeler said, "listen". They were practicing and we could hear the drums resonating throughout the town. The Xhosa tradition and dance serves the role of connecting generations. Through dance, movements and the rhythms of the drum, the Xhosa people believe that the living connect with the dead and offer praises for their ancestors.
I was unable to find the significance of these hats. If you look closely at the skirts, the beads are woven in to the pleats.
Face painting is varied from tribe to tribe. It can represent love, purity, tribal identity, happiness, giving birth to a child, initiation rites and more. Today, we painted our faces "HAPPY"!
Sibongiseni was our designated face-painter. I will have to post some of the other artwork he has created. He is really gifted in this area.
President Mark I. Wood, our outgoing mission president was there for the celebration. He and his lovely wife Kathleen got in to the spirit of things also. The face paint of choice is calamine lotion.
President Wheeler got in to the spirit of the dance! It looked a little like a rock 'n roll move to me, but it was great fun.
I found out that for an 'ol lady, I still have a few moves. The young women taught me five dances. I did my best to follow them. All of the performances were done in the Xhosa language. Some of the words I was able to say. Some I just moved my mouth and pretended.
It was a great party! We loved every minute of it. What an honor to learn more from these great people in Port Alfred, South Africa.