I am not getting married to my English spouse again anytime soon Bahamas Wedding Photographer. Yes, people the whirlwind wedding ceremonies’ (four down) wagon came to a screeching stop at the Easter Weekend. Readers of this column will remember that in the bit titled “Four Weddings Down and Counting,” I wrote so: “Nonetheless I owe my parents along with also the village of my arrival two wedding ceremonies – the conventional in addition to the wedding”
No dumb, I did not have other outstanding wedding ceremonies in the weekend all at the same time, but some of Shakespearean proportions (except it was not a tragedy) happened while I was visiting my family down in Zululand. Let’s just say for now, my family are no longer anticipating the two outstanding wedding ceremonies. I’ve learned to be extra-cautions when dealing with my parents.
This is the way the story went. We spent the current Easter Weekend with my parents in Ulundi in the northern area of the province of KwaZulu-Natal. Our visit to Ulundi was an ordinary courtesy visit to see my loved ones. My village is currently utilised to seeing a white woman amongst themselves so it’s no longer an event worth gossiping about.
However, because a good nurtured Zulu boy, I’d sent some money to my mother so she could buy ingredients necessary to brew the traditional IsiZulu beer called Umqombothi. This was a little gesture on my side to the ancestors to acknowledge their presence in my life. There wasn’t any customary slaughter of a beast or goat for this issue. This visit was supposed to be as routine as possible.
Firstly, on Saturday, my wife entered the Mncube’s kitchen for the very first time with the sole intention of playing makoti (bride) and therefore that meant cooking for those in-laws. I’d decided a week leading to our visit that it was the time and place for my wife to break with the tradition once and for all. You see in my family tradition, unless the bride has officially been introduced to the ancestors throughout the slaughter of a beast, she can’t perform makoti duties including cooking. Regardless of the spirit of defiance on my part, there was another snag.
After an epic six-hour cooking session with a malfunctioning electric cooking stove, food was sent to all. I patted her on the trunk for the work well done. For the last 16 decades, my wife was treated as a visitor to be served meals at appointed times. Naturally, this was now mundane for my wife.
Simultaneously, he demanded that all part of my family be summoned to where we were seating to join us. I offered a reprieve for them to say my wife and daughter were busy cooking. My mother also chipped in to say it was not vital. My father would have none of it. He shouted my mother down. Everybody had to come because he wanted to do something very important. Sensing that I was not likely to win the battle let alone the war, I purchased some random kid to go and summon my wife and daughter. My son was already seating with us. They descended upon the area simultaneously. I didn’t make any eye contact with my wife fearing that she’d ask me what was going on. I was none the wiser.
My father in his petulant fashion made no small talk or exchanges of any pleasantries. He got down to business. He announced matter-of-factly that he was already late in his appointed task to speak to Amadlozi about my side of the family. In Zulu, Amadlozi means ancestors. We refer to Idlozi (singular) – Amadlozi (plural): it means a human spirit or soul of the departed. As he is won’t to do, he walked metres away from us to be near Isibaya (kraal) and started like a house on fire Ukuthetha idlozi. Ukuthetha idlozi literally is “to scold”. Zulu historians argue that Ukuthetha idlozi linguistically gives one the initial impression of an aggressive sort of relationship between the ancestors and their descendants. In practice it isn’t so. The literal English translation is misleading. Ukuthetha idlozi is an expression that implies something different from scolding – it is praying to them (not to be confused with religious prayer) this is similar to a senior counsel’s prayer before a Judge. In its traditional meaning Ukuthetha idlozi rather indicates the communication between the ancestors and their descendants. You basically are telling them what they ought to know and possible make special requests. We treat the dead like the living except that we attach greater value in our relationship with them. We are Zulus, that’s just how we roll.
After a gorgeous rendition of Izithakazelo meaning praises attached to a specific descent group (in this case Mncubes) where the clan’s forebears are also referred to, my father proudly reported thus: “I am reporting to you MaZilakatha (Mncube’s praise name) that uBhekisisa, the son of MaMlambo (my mother’s maiden name) is now married. He has two children. I appeal to you to guard and protect his new family. We pray for their good health, wealth and peace. My apologies for telling you this now. It happened some time back.”
My father ought to have performed this ritual of Ukuthetha idlozi in 2008, once I got married. Nevertheless, the eagerness with which he took to the job, albeit nine years later made me chuckle. He even dispersed with the tradition of burning Impepho that’s a species of a tiny everlasting plant with a sweet smell, (Doke et al 1990: 658). Impepho is used for burning as an offering to the spirits of the departed. It opens communication with the ancestors and makes any request, reporting or sacrifice acceptable. It’s normally a precursor to Ukuthetha idlozi. I cared less. I was happy to hear my father pronounced the words, “uBhekisisa is currently married”.
So dear reader, it has come to pass that the proverbial English wife, Professor D. is currently officially united with my Zulu ancestors. By all accounts, the message to the ancestors was accepted. Basically, it means my wife was accepted as a bride (Makoti) by the Mncube clan after the official reportage to Amadlozi. This is in spite of the fact that there was no sacrificial slaughter of a beast and subsequent standard wedding. As you dear readers know: My wife refuses to have anything to do with a wedding ceremony where the killing of poor cows and goats happens willy-nilly. As my father has relented and introduced my wife to the Amadlozi, it therefore means she is officially regarded as a daughter of the Mncube clan. She can now milk the cows, cook and basically be sent on errands by my family as a duly wedded wife. Sadly, in fact, this means there are nil prospects for any additional wedding ceremonies.