Archive for 5. February 2011

African Funeral (4) – Getting Home, another Adventure

Saturday, 5. February 2011

There was something wrong with the bus already on the way to the cemetery . They had to push it to get the engine running. Back from the cemetery I saw the bus, bonnet open, steaming. It’s rumoured that the fan belt was broken.
Thabi, our domestic, seemed to be the only wearing stockings. So Monique said: “Give me your stockings” – “No!” Monique insisted “Give me your stockings to fix the bus. I buy you new ones.”
Thabi could save her stockings. The belt pulley at the generator was broken of.
How to get the people back to Jo’burg and Sandton? There were 5 seats in this other guy’s sedan, plus 5 in our cabin – far too little. Monique took over the command: “The Ladies in the cars! The guys on the back of our Bakkie!”
Still there were two ladies left. Monique went back to the other car saying: “Thabi, you and I are the youngest, so you get out of the car, and we two will sit on the back of the Navara.”
She must have been convincing. So we left for an hour’s ride back to Jozi – 60 km/h was the maximum I thought I could do that way.
Once more we were stared at this day.  A white Lady amongst a crowd of blacks on the back of a truck.

African Funeral (3) – a New Experience

Saturday, 5. February 2011

In front of the home of the deceased there was a gazebo on the street. We parked nearby, and heard the singing from the crowd in and around the gazebo. We we left Sandton it was somewhat cloudy, so we picked our large umbrella. Lucky us – it now could serve as parasol.
When we reached the mourners, we were stared at: two whites were most likely never have been whites before. A couple of minutes and the secretary of the church approached me asking to give a speech at the coffin, some minutes later a honorable elderly member of the mourners. Usually I am not lost for words, but here I was fully swamped. They had expected we were the employers, but then understood that we were just neighbours showing our ultimate respect barely knowing her.
Singing and prayers continued for quite a while, then parading the partially opened coffin. Then the catafalque approached and under singing the coffin was carried into it.
Cars lined up to follow the catafalque, and we were asked to open the loading area to give transportation.
What we so far only saw – we now were part of: 5 people in the cabin, and 10 – 15 on the back.
Over a bumpy dirt road we finally reached the cemetery. A cemetery not to compare with what we knew from Europe or the US, there it was mere luxury. We’ve not been the only funeral and the singing at the graves almost seemed to be a singing competition. Sometimes we were not sure whether we heard the singing of the funeral we did participate or of the other funeral(s). Prayers at the open grave, and then the women were starting rhythmic singing which ended in dancing, while the men shared three shovels to close the grave.
Most of the graves seemed only a couple of days old, and on each of them there was a plastic bottle. We did ask what was the matter with the bottles. We got told they were to indicate were head of the buried was.
Convoy back to the home of the deceased. A barrel with water was put in front of the gazebo, to wash hands. We were told it was a tradition, because nothing from the cemetery must be taken home.
The women had cooked papp, and short-ribs, and sauce, which was served then. But we didn’t join, since it was looking as if it was going to rain rather soon.

African Funeral (2) – Getting there, an Adventure

Saturday, 5. February 2011

Coming back this morning from the bakery at 8:30, a bus already was waiting in front of the complex. While we had coffee we heard the bus parking in front of our neighbour’s garage. Departure was indicated at 9:00 sharp.
When we stepped out the door to get to our car, waiting for our domestic, our neighbour came from the groceries providing the crowd at the bus with fruit, biscuit and soft drinks for the travel.
Then a new move: He told us he was not able to join, since his wife got sick and they needed to see the doctor. He said we should follow the bus, and described the way to Orange Farm. I had a rough idea, but no precise address.
We left at nine sharp – no African time – and our domestic wasn’t here yet. So it was just us, and Phil, a young guy living with his mother in the complex, who we give some coaching.
Although the bus driver said he would have a look that we were able to follow, even before reaching the highway we had to cross a red light to not lose contact.
After we passed Gold Reef City, and then the SOWETO off-ramp I had the impression the bus was not going the route described by our neighbour. And Phil said he should have taken N1. Okay, maybe he wanted to save the toll.
After some kilometers the bus pulled off at a petrol station. Were they lost, or did they need fuel?
A refueling stop, and a chance for Victoria to change cars – she had asked her employers whether she was joining us, but they told they’d appreciate if she was joining the taxi.
A couple of kilometers later the bus pulled off again, onto a shopping centre. Looking as the clock I was expecting we were being late.
What was the matter? The bus driver told us he was lost. I did ask him for a street address of our destination – he didn’t have one.
A GPS is pretty useless, if you don’t know where you want/need to go. I put in just the city, to get us at least close to our destination, and took the lead.
When we got close to Orange Farm I stopped, going to the bus asking whether there was somebody in the bus, who now could guide to our destination. It seemed so, and the bus took the lead again. Then I noticed there was a car following us – our domestic got her individual lift.
The bus passed the first intersection of Orange Farm, stopped at the second asking somebody on the street, and stopped again at the third intersection. Luckily there was somebody from the church waiting for us, guiding us to the home of the deceased.
We left tar road into the settlement.