Sunday night

I have always been prone to Sunday night syndrome. And it is Sunday night, so take this post with a hefty pinch of salt.

I have had it. I am just so, SO disappointed that I can hardly articulate it, but I will try.

The date for Mdantsane Pride was set at the beginning of the year. It was advertised widely on social media. People were excited – from the response, I expected an enormous turnout. Thabisa worked really hard, and I helped as much as I could. She did the organisational stuff – took time off work to attend endless meetings with Law Enforcement about the arrangements, and handled liaison with the branches and other organisations. I did the fun stuff – commissioned a balloon rainbow, arranged for flags to be made, etc. It was time consuming, but we were both really looking forward to it.

The march was scheduled to start at 12 noon, but Thabs asked people to gather at 11am so that we could paint posters together.

At noon, when we were scheduled to march, there were 25 people gathered. That isn’t a typo: TWENTY-FIVE!

The police didn’t pitch.

There was reluctance in the group to march without the police. “It is the township, not the suburbs,” someone said to me, “there is serious intolerance here – we are not safe”.

While Mfundi kept the vibe going, Thabs and Rave spent ages on the phone trying to get through to Law Enforcement to find out what had happened. Thabs had left, at home, the contract that she had signed with the Traffic Department, so it was difficult to make progress. At 1.30pm I left to go to fetch it. When I left Mdantsane to go home, there were 27 people present.

I didn’t go back to Mdantsane. I phoned Thabs and gave her the telephone numbers on the contract, and said that my instinct was that the police would not turn up and the march should be called off. She said that she would discuss it with everyone. I asked her to let me know.

She says that she was so busy dealing with the issue, and trying to hold things together, that she didn’t really understand that I was waiting for her to call me back. I settled down with a series. After an episode I called to find out what had happened. It turned out that the march had taken place. Without police protection, a tiny TINY group of people marched from Mdantsane City to Kasha Circle, waving flags and asserting their right to be who they are.

I am so proud of them. They did it.

And I am SO disappointed in all the people who said that they would, but didn’t… the people who travelled from all over the province for the after-party. Apparently Jeff’s place was packed to the gills last night with happy LGBTI people. Seriously? SERIOUSLY? Explain it to me, please, people… explain why you will travel to PE and Knysna and Durban and Soweto to go to those Prides, but you won’t support one in Mdantsane? WHY? Why do you all want to buy flags (and grumble that only 16 were made) but you don’t want to wave them in Mdantsane? WHY?

I am so over it.

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People at a wedding

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It was a swelteringly hot day in East London yesterday. The School Communicator popped up on my computer screen at mid-day. An alarming red notice said that after-school sport was cancelled owing to the heat.

Thabisa’s mother phoned in the evening. Apparently it was unbearable in Mthatha and everyone was looking forward to the rain that would break the heatwave, but then ominous storm clouds gathered. “My mom said that it looked really bad,” Thabs reported. “They even had to go out and shout embo”.


Thabs takes a breath and explains. “When very bad weather threatens, everyone goes out of their houses and waves a plate at the sky and shouts EEEEMMMMMBBBOHHH. It means ‘go far away’. EEEEMMMMMBBBOHHH! apho kulalwa ngengubo enye. Go far away! to where people only sleep with one blanket.”

“Where’s that?” I ask.

“No-one knows.”

I clearly look sceptical.

“It works! It really does, Gail. The rain goes away. Or, if it was going to be bad, it is just a gentle rain.”

A moment’s reflection.

“But it doesn’t work for tornadoes. There is nothing you can do about a tornado.”

There. Now you know something you didn’t know yesterday.

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That wedding…

… caused some serious confusion. It wasn’t Thabisa and I that were getting married, it was Milisa and Nonelelo. Re-reading my last post I see that it was a bit ambiguous. Sorry! 🙂

Here are the pics from the traditional part.

I should explain that the church wedding was in King William’s Town on the Saturday morning, and the reception was on Saturday afternoon. There was very little going on on Saturday night while further discussions between the two families took place. We went to the bride’s family’s home on the Saturday night, and were crammed into a small room to wait for the bride to come home. At about 8.30 we were told that she might only arrive after midnight. We baled – drove an hour to the groom’s home in a small village near Debe Nek. We expected that there would be some kind of celebration going on, but there wasn’t. Our small party of six sat in a bedroom, had a few beers and chatted amongst ourselves. We eventually found places to crash (three in a bed, the rest on the floor) and turned in. I was amazed by the calmness the next morning. Everyone seemed to know what to do. We were brought oats for breakfast. A team of women swung into catering action and another team decorated the marquee. Then we waited for the bride and groom to arrive. They did eventually – she in the white dress she had worn the day before. Everyone sat outside, next to the kraal, in the blazing midday sun, for what felt like hours, while a preacher preached. Then we moved into the marquee. The bride and groom got changed into traditional dress. Her outfit was really, really beautiful. Thabs had the camera at that stage, and she didn’t think to get a pic of the back of her dress, which was just lovely.

































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There was no hymn sheet

The congregation decided what to sing, and when to sing it.

Here is the clip you have been waiting for from last Saturday’s wedding…


Terribly low res, but you get the idea.


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We caused a stir

I have never been more photographed in my life! The general consensus, in spite of my reservations about white people in Xhosa traditional dress, was that it worked.  The eyebrow pencil instead of calamine for the face painting was a bit of a fail – it smudged and needed touching up all the time (thanks for your patience, Cebisa).

I really resisted the notion of Thabisa in men’s clothes, and me in women’s (you know… the boring “who is the man?” question), but in the end it is how it worked out.

Thabisa and Gail in traditional dress.

Thabisa and Gail in traditional dress.

She looked fab. I must prefer the men's clothing - nice lines.

She looked fab. I must prefer the men’s clothing – nice lines.

Detail of the ibhayi bought in the street in King William's Town - beautiful beadwork.

Detail of the ibhayi bought in the street in King William’s Town – beautiful beadwork.

Beaded bracelet and stick (intonga eraselweyo)

Beaded bracelet and stick (intonga eraselweyo)

The head-dress, called iqhiya, is surprisingly comfy.

The head-dress, called iqhiya, is surprisingly comfy.

In the thick of things, welcoming the makhoti to the groom's homestead

In the thick of things, welcoming the makhoti to the groom’s homestead

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Cellphones and ceremony: a wedding

The Eastern Cape LGBTI Organisation marched down Oxford Street on 10 August. It was a small, but vibrant group of people, carrying placards, singing protests songs.  As usual, I took pictures. But I really struggled this time. There were almost as many people ahead of the main banner, walking quickly backwards with their arms outstreached, taking photographs, as there were behind the banner doing the marching. I got really annoyed. It was difficult to get a shot of the marchers because the cellphone shooters were in the way.  “Are you here to march, or to take pictures of the march?” I caught myself muttering before I got the irony… I am ALWAYS taking pictures.

Thabs and I attended a wedding on Saturday. I quickly realised that I was going to have the same problem. This time I decided to go with the flow and photograph the photographers.  Here they are. The narrative is in the captions.

Urgent calls to make while we wait (an hour and a half) for the bride.

Urgent calls to make while we wait (an hour and a half) for the bride.

The bridesmaids arrive. Notice that the cellphone is colour-coordinated.

The bridesmaids arrive. Notice that the cellphone is colour-coordinated.

A new salute... as the bride enters the church all arms are extended in an attempt to get a post-able picture.

A new salute… as the bride enters the church all arms are extended in an attempt to get a post-able picture.

My first glimpse of the bride is via someone else's iPad.

My first glimpse of the bride is via someone else’s iPad.

Shoot and post... shoot and post...

Shoot and post… shoot and post…

Filming is now called "videorising" and everyone does it (I am guilty too - had to get a clip of Thabs ululuting - watch this space!)

Filming is now called “videorising” and everyone does it (I am guilty too – had to get a clip of Thabs ululuting – watch this space!)

Last one...

Last one…

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