A few months ago one of my black friends
asked me why white people go on vacation so much. He then asked me how we do it and if we weren’t afraid to go
to unknown places. We talked about
budgeting for vacations and the different ways in which one plan a vacation. This got me thinking about another
aspect of my life that I just take for granted. Through numerous family vacations white children become
socialized into a culture of vacationing.
Over the weekend thirteen of us hiked in
the Drakensberg. Our group
represented Zimbabwe, Tswana, English, Xhosa, Swazi and Afrikaner people. However what trumped these identities
was our common rootedness in Jesus.
For seven of the guys in the group this was their first hike and their
first time in the Drakensberg.
Early Friday morning, at four o’clock, I left
my house with the Oasis bus and picked up people in the suburbs, Cosmo City and
the squatter camp. A few of the
guys didn’t know each other at all.
Shy greetings were exchanged and off we went – a diverse small slice of
South Africa’s rainbow nation.
The conversation in the bus soon turned to
an African passion, soccer. For
three hours the discussion in the bus was dominated by soccer talk. We stopped at Harrismith and enjoyed a
burger at 8am and as we turned unto the pothole-strewn road to Injasuthi we
were blessed with some amazing singing in the bus.
It was the weekend’s singing that impacted
me the most.
It is a dimension of my black friends’
culture that vibrates with life.
Their singing is much more than just a quaint artefact to be admired by
westerners. The two caves we slept
in pulsated with the passion of their songs. When we asked our friends to sing South African struggle
songs their whole being (voice, body, memory) filled with the stories told by
the songs. The songs became
receptacles for history, memory and hopes. When they sang it brought them and me into the current of a
During one of the songs, one of our friends
commented, “I can’t sit and sing this song”, “I have to stand and dance”. The songs evoke a response,
first of voice and then of body.
One song laments, “Senzeni na”, “What have we done to deserve this?”
Today I’m trying to remember the songs we
sang in the caves and the valleys and in the bus while I was the mulungu
mage’za. Driving back in the bus, the songs once
again reverberated and helped me not to fall asleep at the wheel.
We bonded in a special way over this weekend. New friendships started and new stories can now be lived into.
I pray and hope that my body and being can be summoned into God’s kingdom stories and rhythms here in South Africa.