Thursday, September 27, 2012

Heritage Day

Traditional Hut

Thatching a Roof with Grass
On Monday, we attended a large Heritage Day celebration event at the Mgobodi Tribal Center in Mgobodi. We caught a taxi to the event with a group of students from Madadene who were performing at the festival. We arrived very early (about 9AM) at the tribal center and weren't exactly clear about what was happening or going to happen, so we wandered around and stopped to watch a group of married women practicing a dance (I'll post a movie this weekend when we have free wifi at the Bed and Breakfast).

I (Elizabeth) admired the attire of the women and said so to a woman passing by. Next thing I knew, I was being driven to someone's house where the chief's wife and another woman dressed me in the same clothing they were wearing. They tried to dress Perry up in the men's attire, but it required him to go shirtless -- not a good idea with his pale skin and the African sun. So they draped a traditional cloth over the top of his shirt instead.

With the Chief's Wife (right) and Another Kind Woman

Afterwards, they fed us some delicious food (including a new dish for us made with peanuts and soy -- yummy) and drove us to the event venue (we both thought we were already at the venue). We paraded in with our group, singing and dancing (Well, everyone else was dancing, I was kind of shuffling and attempting to remain inconspicuous -- kind of hard because they stuck me in the front row!). We were given good seats under the tent and we were introduced to everyone by the MC, who asked us to stand up and wave. Then, representatives of different cultures were asked to stand up -- Shangaan, Zulu, Swati, and Sepedi were present, but the overwhelming majority of attendees were Swati. 

Gogo Gets Down!
At regular intervals, snacks were brought out: We were given apples, some traditional corn bread, homemade peanut butter and a traditional fermented drink made from maize meal. There were many, many groups performing. Married women's groups, groups of virgins, mixed men's and women's groups who danced to drums (and a cool drum-like instrument that was made to reverberate by pulling a cord across holes in it), men's groups, and "modern" groups who did hip-hop! We watched until almost 6PM, when our hosts saw that we were flagging and took us back to the tribal center. There, they fed us again, and after a short while, the taxi driver took us and the students back home.

Married Woman's Group

Virgin Groups
It was an incredible experience and I want to learn the married woman's dance so I can participate next year! Everyone was so impressed with our halting siSwati, too. It's encouraging and reminds me that I need to practice more!

High Kick!
Mixed Group
Adorable Small "Man" in Men's Group
Amazing Hand Carved Staffs

- Elizabeth

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