Malealea Wedding

The marriage of Jacqui and Brian Kirk at Malealea

Saturday 18th 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 18th 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 ivy and pomegranate
flowers. The Thaba Putsoa Mountains provided a glorious backdrop. Flowering
agaves were dug into the ground in a semi circle on 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 Jacqui and Brian 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 to a high mountain where there was cell phone signal to phone
Di’s 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. The wedding is 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 candles were 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 were now offered up for the weather to
hold and many fingers were crossed.

During this time someone noticed that some of the peacocks were missing a some
of their tail feathers!

Everyone was relieved when Brian and Jacqui 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 3.00p.m originally,
he was not too fazed when I told him it would be a little later and asked if
he would like a cool drink. He sensibly asked for a cold Hansa beer.

Guests, choirs and people waited patiently for the great moment. 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. They were followed by the flower girls, Jessica, Katie
and Kerryann carrying small baskets of rose petals and the bridesmaid, Debbie,
in a slender silver gown carrying a small bouquet of roses. The waiting groom
stood patiently at the altar. The show was on.

Also in this group was the matron-of honour Agnes, or Aggie, former nanny to
the Jones’ children and now the Lodge keeper, 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), the renderings
of various Basotho choirs accompanied the bridal party in the ceremony and again
after the ceremony as the coupled made their way 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. Everyone was in a 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
riders with 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 and black blankets, dancing and
singing. They carried a Basotho blanket that was carefully arranged around the
bride’s shoulders.

They women 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

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. Mick had arranged
for an ox to be slaughtered and gallons of joala ba Sesuto flowed freely.

As it was still light at 6:00p.m everyone was able to settle down and watch
the beautiful evening fading sun 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 Mick to say a few words. He made an excellent speech standing next
to a glowing Jacqui and proposed a toast to the bride and groom. The best man,
Vaughan Collie, recounted anecdotes of both Brian and Jacqui. During his speech,
Vaughan was heckled by a very vocal peacock (or peahen?) that had woken up.
As he proposed the toast to the bridemaids, a magnificent full moon rose behind
him on the one side of the scene while on the other lightning silently flickered
in a huge cumulous cloud in the great folds behind the mountains. The candles
flickered in the foreground. Dave, in introducing Brian, said he’d heard
of all the wonderful things he’d done but how Brian was able to produce
a full moon at such a time was unimaginable. This was truly a wondrous unforgettable

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 in a hurry. 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 day.

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