Dashiki Dialogues: Easter, an annual divine comedy

2013-03-31 10:00

Whatever you make of it, Easter, like the first Sunday of the year, tends to make comedy of our lives.

Why is it the uncle or aunt, who was booze bingeing at the ­Christmas lunch, will make the loudest noise about his or her ­resolution to go to church come first Sunday?

It’s not unlike the drunks who ­remember their maker every time the liquor takes its inebriating toll.

They seem to hum their hymns with unparalleled emotional gravitas. Oh, and they’ll be sure to preach that message of repentance with ­supreme urgency.

You’d swear they just caught exclusive wind of Christ’s imminent second coming.

This is why I blinked twice when I got a special summons last week. I was informed, in no uncertain terms, by the matriarch of my family that I was expected to put on a tie and join the family’s march to church on Good Friday.

Though this is a ritual I had ­casually participated in over the years, I was surprised by the formal orders to do so this year.

So I ironed that shirt and toed the line. It’s simple logic: if you, like me, remember with unfading clarity mum’s belt, her wet face cloth or the sting from the peach-tree stick she used on your bum, you’d rather not discover what she’ll do to remind you who is running things.

Anyway, the whole affair helped me observe the weekend’s pageantry.

The streets acquired aesthetic appeal from the churchgoers’ attire. I caught the purple cape and blouse, with ­velvet black cap and skirt, of the Catholic granny in my mother’s crew.

The red-and-white tunic with black skirts of the Methodist ­women’s flock shared the spectrum with ­another wearing a white shirt, a ­purple cape and a hyena-skin cap.

Then, of course, there were the tyre soles worn by the khaki-clad ZCC men and boys.

A tolerance for slight shabbiness is what distinguishes them from their breakaway group who share their khakis but prefer immaculately shined shoes and military-style marching to tyre soles, praise and athletic jumping (called mpoho).

When these rivers of colour, these people en route to church, met the holy boozer before he was transformed by inebriation, an interesting encounter occurred.

I observed this near my mother’s house.

Mosibi, with a plastic bag of empty beer bottles, was hurling accusations of hypocrisy at the flock: “Why does Modise only wear his ZCC badge when he is broke?

Morena (the lord) is not an ATM,” he yelled, before asking a neighbour if he could catch a lift to the graveyard on Easter Monday.

It was a multifaith dashiki for a colourful dialogue with heritage and the divine.

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