Monday, December 12, 2005

Shake What Your Ancestors Gave ya!

This weekend, I had the pleasure of going to a bridal celebration for a South African couple in Baltimore. This is a couple that I've met only recently. They are traveling to South Africa within the next couple of weeks to have a traditional SA celebration of their union. Actually, the Bride is South African and the Groom is an African American from Baltimore (I use the term African American only to differentiate between the two because we're all just Black folks to me). They are a beautiful couple and they love each other very much. Now, whenever I go to a celebration for anyone of just about any culture, I find a way to participate in whatever is going on culturally (without being pretentious). Culturally, my experiences have ranged from Caribbean to Latino. I've only recently come into contact with people from Africa over the last couple of years. I love the similarities and I especially love the differences that they have with African Americans. South Africans love to sing, dance, kiss, and eat. They also love to talk politics no matter the educational level.

The music at the party was all South African music and a little Reggae. Yes, it would have been nice to hear a little Hip-Hop or R&B, but this particular party was strictly South African and I was cool with that. So, I watched a little and I danced a little just as I always do. The songs were in their language, but hell...I don't usually listen to the words that I'm dancing too anyway...just give me a beat. Anyway, there were other people at the party also from Baltimore. I counted three women and the mother of the groom. Unfortunately, they did not seem to enjoy themselves the entire time. They fixed their plates, found a place to sit and it was all she wrote until it was time to leave. They seemed shocked and amazed as they watch a shapely gathering of South African women turn the front living room into a dance floor. The bride sat in the middle while the women gave her praises and well wishes through song and dance. I found it to be a beautiful sight.

I felt bad that my fellow African Americans were not able or willing to open up and appreciate what was going on. Maybe they saw it as too distant from what they or their not so distant ancestors were accustomed to? Perhaps they were just observing and the experience would be different next time? Nevertheless, the South African men and women seemed oblivious as they danced well into the midnight hour. I joined in and I had a fantastic time! After all of my observing and dancing, there was one bright spot among the groom's relatives. The mother of the groom eventually got up out of her chair and began to dance! The women began to shout and clap as the weak, but determined woman rocked from side to side to the rhythm of the music. I laughed and clapped as well as I witnessed the old woman from West Baltimore revisit her African past. It was beautiful!

Note: Thhe woman that is the subject of this piece died recently. May she dance and shout in a
joyous voice for all eternity. Peace~

20 comments:

Bougie Black Boy said...

your write-up was amazing. Did you take pictures there? I'd love to see the images, if so. Amazing.

Stephen Bess said...

SEJ-
I wish that I had a digital camera at that party. I do plan on getting one soon. The images were fantastic! I'm glad that you enjoyed the read. I hope that my words allowed you to be there in imagination.

nikki said...

simply beautiful, stephen. i wish i had been there to see it.

"N" Search of Ecstasy said...

I have been to quite a few weddings, but I have never been to once like this!

I bet it was beautiful!

Groove said...

What an amazing discription. You go to the coolest places, I wanna hang with you! I would have enjoyed the celebration as well. I am one of those type that "When in rome"

Stephen Bess said...

Nikki-
Yes, you seem like a really opened minded individual. I think that you would have enjoyed it.

N S Of Ecstasy-
Perhaps you would have found ecstasy that night. :)

Groove-
I think that one should take the opportunity to learn and experience in those situations. We should definitely try to learn about other cultures within the African Diaspora.

Sumeeta said...

I agree with SJ. You're writeup was amazing. I love going to weddings because you can learn a lot about different cultures.

BTW, SJ is going to disagree with me on my post about Stanley "Tookie" Williams. Let me know what you think.

Stephen Bess said...

Sumeeta-
Yes, you learn so much if you allow yourself to take in the experience as a whole.

Ruben said...

Have a great time Stephen.

Stephen Bess said...

Ruben-
Yes, I had a great time. Thanks.

ProfessorGQ said...

I would have love to attend a ceremony like that...it is great to experience different cultures because we all have interesting practices, beliefs, etc.

tryphina said...

What a descriptive description Stephen, very illustrative illustration of events :) English is not my language, so....

The old lady is a true African, you can place her in West Baltimore, but you can take away the spirit, the energy, and the pride of being a Woman, and an African Woman at that!! I hope we can all learn from her example. You did not mention the menfolk, what were they doing?? arms closed, eyes folded??? heee heeee

tryphina said...

Sorry "you cannot take away the spirit etc"

Tu s. Tin said...

my sister in law is from Kenya she says a wedding celebration in Africa can last a week. One thing Ive noticed about people from Africa is when they smile....their entire face lights up. and the music at the wedding you went to sounds great!

Brea said...

That wedding sounds like a lot of fun! Glad you were able to enjoy yourself despite the cultural differences.

Stephen Bess said...

ProfGQ-
Yes, I agree. We all have something interesting to offer the world.

Tryphina-
Yes, I agree. There are differences in African culture throughout the continent. In America, there are blacks in the coastal regions of South Carolina and Georgia (Gullah) who are very connected with their West African culture. This is largely due to their isolation from urban centers.

Tu s tin-
It sounds like your family is very culturally diverse. I've been around people from Kenya (Kikuyu) and they are wonderful people. They remind me of the good ol' southern people that I grew up with in North Carolina. Thanks for that.

Brea-
Yes, it is important for people to be opened minded and willing to experience the food and ways of other people (especially the food). Yum!

Michelle said...

Sounds like a wonderful experience. Glad to see you were open-minded and able to join in. I think those that just sat back, observed and judged missed out on a great opportunity to get in touch with their ancestry. Their loss.

Stephen Bess said...

Michele-
Isn't it a shame. They only needed to reach out and support their brother/cousin. Thanks for stopping in.

Irena said...

I know you surely did have a nice time and I love the way we party, no limitations and in party , there are no strangers!

Stephen Bess said...

Yes, I love it and embrace it wholeheartedly. It's very difficult to get an African to go home too if the party is at your home. **giggle**

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