The next day we all got together at the side of the highway so that we could drive into Khayelitsha in convoy. The township is home to half a million people in the space of under 45 square kilometres and is like a huge dusty maze. Streets are just the spaces between homes and are not signposted, named or numbered and this would be the venue for our wedding in Capetown
We all arrived together at Lungi’s B&B and were warmly welcomed by Nomalungelo, otherwise known as Gladys. Galdys worked hard to follow her dream and she shares her story with you on her website. You should definitely give it a read, she is such an inspirational lady!
We settled in quickly into Lungi’s and Debbie got straight to work on my hair, wrapping it around straws to make it frizz!
With the addition of smoky eyes and a white afro later I was ready to be dressed while Alex had his hair slicked back with whatever product we could find to keep it down.
The contrast to the Afrikaans shoot was just off the scale. The colour on the walls of the homes, the tin shacks held together with whatever could be found. The sandy lanes and the colourful washing hung out to dry in the baking sun. We drew a friendly crowd quickly as we wandered the streets and had a laugh with the guys cleaning cars near to the barbers where we sipped orange fizz in the shade.
The sun was hot and the outfits heavy but by 1.30 we were done shooting outside and could head back to Lungi’s for another change of clothes and it was wedding in Capetown time!
Before long it was time for the ceremony to start. The choir sang their hearts out as we arrived and we even had guests! We had met a couple staying at Lungi’s and invited them to join us. We never even asked them their names, nor them ours but they came along and got more than they bargained for when Alex was told he would need a best man!
The German couple looked worried as we insisted that he be the best man as aside from the pastor, he was the only man present! Janet was roped into being by my side throughout the ceremony and we got down to some seriously emotional wedding business.
The pastor spoke Xhosa throughout the ceremony and one of the choir translated for us. The Priest told the congregation (when he finally got the choir to stop singing) about how God made Adam and that without a woman at his side, Adam was useless. (we can all relate to that!)
God finally decided to make Adam a wife, a companion and before long Eva arrived. His sermon was all about respecting the relationship you have with your wife, about being faithful, about how much you need each other and that a relationship is with two people. If a third person is involved it all goes wrong. Many of the people we spoke to about weddings and being married in Khayelitsha stated that infidelity was a big problem!
The Priest asked our ‘relations’, the German guy and Alex’s Mum if we were going to be okay to be married and if we would respect each other and they confirmed that we would.
Once the Priest announced us husband and wife he took us in front of the altar and held our hands tightly. He bound them all together and held them close to his chest as he blessed us. The choir went quiet just before the blessing and Gladys closed the church door.
The choir began to chant, each something different, in a fast undulating way, getting louder and louder and swaying on their feet and then the priest started our blessing. His voice broke away from the rest and in the same fast, frantic prayer he blessed us.The prayers and the blessings gripped our hearts even not understanding the words and I let out a tear or two of happiness and sheer respect for the people of Khayelitsha who had welcomed us into their church, their home and their hearts.
The door was opened again and the choir began to sing once more.
We had been welcomed so readily into Gladys home, into their church and by their neighbours who all came to sing and dance once the ceremony was over. Everyone clapped, sang, ululated, danced and rejoiced as we wound our way back to Lungis and that was it, the party had started and showed no signs of stopping!
“An ululation is a long, wavering, high-pitched vocal sound resembling a howl with a trilling quality. It is produced by emitting a high pitched loud voice accompanied with a rapid movement of the tongue and the uvulva The term ululation is an onomatopoeic word derived from Latin. It is produced by moving the tongue, rapidly, back and forth repetitively in the mouth while producing a sharp sound.
In South Africa, ululating is used by women to give praises at weddings, celebrations and when good news has been delivered in a place of gathering, even in church.” (Thanks Wikipedia!)
We danced along for a while and by 3pm we were so hungry we had to have a break to eat. We ate curried veg, chicken pieces and ugali which is a starch dish, like rice. We all sat around the table eating and drinking and talking about the day so far.
Once lunch was over we went back out to do a few more shots and to meet some more neighbours! I was dressed excitedly by Gladys in the ladies traditional clothes called ‘Amajeremani’. I had a scarf wrapped around my head and it was explained to me that before a woman was to be married she must remain 3 days without shoes in the home of her husband to be. This is because because the ancestors of her husband to be must welcome her. If she is wearing shoes, they cannot welcome her and she would not be allowed to marry him.
Next it was explained that I would have a naming ceremony where I would be given my African name. I had to be seated on the floor and lower my eyes to show respect for my new family. I was told that my new name would be ‘Sive’ which means ‘listen’ and then I was welcomed into the family by again being danced down the street!
While all this was going on Alex had to go and learn about the ‘Lobola’ which sometimes translated as ‘bride price’. It is tradition that the man, in order to ask for a woman’s hand in marriage must prove he can support her and to do so must give her family a number of cows as proof.
“The custom is aimed at bringing the two families together, fostering mutual respect, and indicating that the man is capable of supporting his wife financially”.
Of course this involved Alex getting close and personal with a cow! I got the best part of that deal for sure!
We all went back to the church where Lungis dance class performed for us. They had practised so hard and danced so well! The kids between 5 and 9 had so much rhythm and amazing attitude. The dancing was like a dance off, offering a competitor to step up and dance with you and then dismissing them if they didn’t meet your standards! They had such energy, as did the parents stood around watching, cheering, enthusing and dancing along themselves on the spot.
After so long we sneaked away to get changed out of our traditional clothes. It was so incredibly hot and while I would be sad to leave after such an amazing day I was exhausted and exhilarated and my mind had been well and truly opened after meeting Gladys and hearing her story.
We left and said our goodbyes, they weren’t sad ones as the party was still going on and looked far from finishing. The waving, dancing and singing and clapping continued as we drove away.
We got back to our campsite, reflected on our day and collapsed happily in our pop up tent!
It was a real experience to see these two cultures side by side, different era’s, different homes, different beliefs but still all the same, we all; world over, LOVE a wedding!
There are SO many images that I absolutely ADORE and these are all just the behind the scenes. Make sure you keep an eye on our facebook page to see the link to a feature with the final images AND a video of the day | COMING SOON!
Thanks as always to the dream team…you introduced us to some of the most inspiring people we have ever met (yourselves included), offered us an opportunity we would have never dreamed of AND made us look flipping AWESOME! You all ROCK.
HALO (Annika Olah) – Shoes and Jewellery | ANNIES ANGELS – Hat and Belt | COSTUME HIRE – Dress, Purse and Shoes | SECOND TIME AROUND – Alex hat, shirt and suit | HAIRPIECE – Robyn Roberts | WENDYS in OBSERVATORY – Dress | LOCATIONS – Lungis B&B | PHOTOGRAPHY – www.blink-photography.co.za | STYLING – Annika Olah firstname.lastname@example.org | MAKE UP – Debbie Jean www.realwomenmakeup.com
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