It’s raining. In fact, it been raining for a couple of days as we pick our way through the tiny village of curious children, goats, slush, chickens, animal poo and round mud huts to the larger one where the ceremony will take place. There are just us and the locals and everyone needs to remove their soggy shoes before entering. The drumming starts, there’s lots of singing – and the occasional ‘Jesus’ slips into the lyrics which is a tad odd, but otherwise all as you’d imagine. And boy, can these people dance and sing! Even the 18 month old toddler has rhythm.
There are offerings to the Sangoma and her apprentices when they arrive – fruit, money, sweets and alcohol. She passes around a bottle of brandy – to us first – and we take a swig. This is rapidly followed by beer, then a bottle of 'Brutal Fruit' – which I guess is some kind of vodka cruiser? - and drink some regardless.
|MWW having a slug of the..?|
Part of the ceremony involves the apprentices washing everyone’s feet in a plastic tub. We’re invited first and balance precariously as each foot is thoroughly washed in the basin of cold water. Once the feet of all 50 or so people there are washed, the water, which is looking a bit murky by now, is then collected into empty plastic soft drink bottles for the purpose of – and I swear I am not making this up – giving to sick people to drink!!! Because if you weren’t really sick before, by god after a few slugs of that foot water, you sure will be!
Perhaps don’t try this at home.