Saturday 18 th January 2003 (Organised
and planned a week before the date!)
Hollywood could not have staged it better! After three clear
hot sunny days it was not surprising to awake on the 18 th January
2003 with ominous dark clouds over the mountains after horrendous
winds during the night. But we all carried on with the preparations
regardless, ignoring what we presumed must come. The bridal arch
was set up on the front lawn (decorated with variegated ivy and
pomegranate flowers) with the Thaba Putsoa Mountains as a glorious
backdrop. Flowering agaves were dug into the ground in a semi
circle each side of the area set aside on the vast lawn for the
service and the chairs put out leaving an aisle for the bridal
couple to come down to the altar table in front of the arch. As
an added touch the flower girls were sent off to get birdseed
to sprinkle on a raised area ostensibly to attract the peacocks
for the photo shoot
At 9.30am, the priest – Rev. Father Joseph Ntlamelle who
came from Mohales Hoek met with teh couple to go through
the service and the marriage certificate details and asked whether
they had signed an Ante Nuptial contract. Horrors, they had not
given it a thought! Being out of range of any telephone someone
was dispatched a way away to a high mountain where there was cell
phone signal to phone an attorney in Bloemfontein to ask
what they should do about it. He very kindly offered to drive
to Wepener (halfway between Bloemfontein and Malealea) with an
A.N.C. (he had been invited to the wedding but was unable to come)
to meet them at 1.00pm. Sighs of relief and off they went, a 1
½ hour’s drive (wedding scheduled for 3.00pm)
Meanwhile preparations carry on – tables and chairs for
the feast were arranged behind the ceremony chairs on the vast
lawn in front of the main lounge with this amazing backdrop of
mountains. Many, many candles were decorated with ivy and pinecones
and put into holders, large ones being stuck into the ground.
By now the menacing clouds were dispersing and a hot sun shone
down (wilting the ivy and people alike). Many prayers are now
offered up for the weather to hold and many fingers crossed.
During this time it was noted that some of the peacocks were
missing a considerable number of their tail feathers!
Great relief was felt when the couple eventually returned
with their A.N.C. at ten to three. Time is not strictly adhered
to in Lesotho and although the priest had been informed that the
ceremony would take place at 3.00pm originally, he was not too
fazed when I told him it would be a little later and would he
like a cool drink, and hesensibly asked for a cold Hansa.
Guests, choirs and people waited patiently for the great moment
when at about 4.00pm I looked up to see a very proud Mick leading
to the altar an absolutely stunning-looking Jacqui wearing a matt
silver sparkly low backed dress with a bouffant skirt and carrying
cream roses followed by the flower girls Jessica, Katie and Kerryann
carrying small baskets of rose petals and bridesmaid Debbie in
a slender silver gown carrying a small bouquet of roses, where
stood the patiently waiting groom. The show was on.
Also in this group was the matron-of honour Agnes, or Aggie,
former nanny to th eJones’ children and now the Lodgekeeper,
wearing a traditional brown print dress and blanket. Instead of
the wedding march (which I have just remembered was purchased
specially to be played before and after the ceremony), were the
renderings of the various Basotho choirs which accompanied the
bridal party to the ceremony and again after the ceremony to a
silver balloon be-decked open safari vehicle for the next stage
of this unusual wedding. The programme stated ‘bridal couple
and guests will tour the village and meet the people, so off they
drove very slowly accompanied by a mounted escort of about 50
Basotho Horsemen dressed in red blankets on the one side and blue
blankets on the other side of the vehicle. During all this the
singing, shouting, and ululating was terrific with everyone in
festive mood. At the finish everyone congregated down below the
Lodge outside the fence and a large circle was formed with the
riders on the outside, forming two circles riding in opposite
direction, Mick being one of the riders in blanket and hat!
Photographed once again against the dramatic background of the
mountains the riderswith their Basotho hats and blankets were
a sight to behold. The bridal couple standing in the middle of
the circle were approached by a group of women coming slowly towards
them dressed in yellow/black blankets, dancing and singing bearing
a Basotho blanket which was carefully arranged around the bride’s
shoulders. They were followed by yet another group of dancing
and singing women bearing gifts for the couple. At this stage
I must mention that a great many of the riders and participants
were wearing some magnificent peacock feathers either in their
hats or as nosegays! The last act with the people was a group
of male Sibaca Dancers who came into the arena stamping and singing
in Sibaca costume.
From here family and guests made their way back to the Lodge
for a breather from all the excitement and a welcome drink while
more official photographs were taken around the arch. The villagers
made their way to their feast as Mick had arranged for an ox to
be slaughtered and gallons of joala ba Sesuto.
As it was still light at 6:00pm everyone was able to settle
down and watch the beautiful evening sky light up the mountains
with pinks, golds and mauves while sipping champagne.
As the light faded seats were taken and all the candles lit
in preparation for the last part of the day when Jacqui’s
uncle, Dave acting as M.C. called upon the father to say a few words.
He made an excellent speech standing next to a glowing Bride,
afterwards proposing a toast to the bride and groom. This was
followed by the best man, recounting various anecdotes
concerning the couple, during which time he was constantly
heckled by a very vocal peacock (or peahen?) who had woken up.
As he proposed the toast to the bridemaids so a magnificent full
moon rose behind him on the one side of the scene while on the
other a huge cumulous cloud had lightning silently flickering
through the great folds behind the mountains with the candles
in the foreground. Dave in introducing teh Bridegroom n said he’d heard
of all the wonderful things he’d done but how he was
able to produce a full moon at such a time was unimaginable. This
was truly a wondrous unforgettable experience – Had Hollywood
tried to contrive this combination of events it would have been
considered overkill. I would add that not for a moment did anyone
think about the moon being full or indeed exactly where it would
rise as plans were made for the whole event fairly precipitately.
If this had been planned as such it would surely have been a rained
out failure. ........
A warm windless evening with a clear moonlit sky ended a momentous
Khotso Pula Nala.