October 29th, 2011
Being a Saturday, Addy and I went to the KaGogo Center. Our Community government meets on Saturday so we go and sometimes sit in on meetings and sometimes just sit in our “office” and talk to people who visit us. We are present more for exposure then to actually accomplish anything. And today was fairly standard until we herd a band. Seeing one marching band in Africa was exciting but now to hear a second in two weeks, we had to investigate. We walked outside the royal kraal to find another parade marching in.
Turns out the final game of the Langa Bricks Football (soccer) League was going on at the local soccer pitch. I didn’t even know we had a soccer pitch let alone a league that would require a final game. We were invited to watch so we went. The field is about a 25 minutes walk back (I can’t describe the direction better then that, its just back from the main road). We walked through the old coalmine housing complexes, which now stand semi occupied and very deteriorated. It had the eeriness of a ghost town, holding lots of secrets within abandoned buildings. Just past the complex we found not just a soccer pitch, but also a whole “stadium.” There is a set of stands to sit in and we snagged some fount row seats. The entire sidelines were also filled with fans sitting on the ground.
My favorite student Noah found us and sat with us. There was some pre-game entertainment provided by a local group that dresses and sings traditional Swazi songs. Noah translated for us and my favorite song is one called “Ufunani?” It is about a man who is asking his wife who cheated on him, “what do you want, wife, what?” It’s real catchy and gets stuck in my head. A close second favorite was one about, as Noah translates, “Stepmothers. You know how sometimes stepmothers smother their stepchildren.”
Anyways the marching band then led in the teams: Liverpool (orange) vs. Bhelebani (green). I was wearing a green skirt so I chose to support Bhelebani with Noah. Addy chose to support Liverpool for added drama and her and Noah bet that who’s ever team loses they have to sing a song in front of Health Club next week.
It was an intense game. The community Chief showed up in the second half, at which point I realized that he was the person who gave Addy and I a ride to school last week. I guess I have officially met the chief. An announcer also showed up for the last half hour of play and ironically the only part of his commentating that I understood was when he said, “I don’t speak siSwati well.” Apparently he is from Ghana. However, he commentated without fail until Bhelebani claimed victory with a 2-1 win for the trophy.
The game lasted about 2.5 hours due to that fact that every time the ball went out of bounds it usually flew down a hill and into the African bush. It took some time retrieving as most African bushes have thorns. Then we sat for another 2 hours for the presentations. Everyone and their mother gave speeches and then each team in the league was given money, and then finally the medals and trophy were given. It was really hot and Addy and I near lost our minds. At one point we were both clutching our stomachs and wiping our eyes with tear inducing laugher over a poor translation that sounded real dirty in English. At one point we even met the chief’s young son who was introduced to us as “Kato, like John Kate.” In our dreary sun soaked mental state the only logical explanation of this was that they were referring to Jon and Kate Plus Eight (they get a fair share of American TV Shows so it was completely logical). Out of curiosity we asked if our assumption was right and we got a confused look and a response of “No, his name is Johnkate, Kato for short” (no idea how to spell it but that is how it sounded). This of course sent us into another fit of uncontrollable laughter.
We finally left just in time to get home before dark, singing unfunani all the way home.