The Very Rev Michael Weeder. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)
The Very Rev Michael Weeder. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

That christening brought to mind in supermarket

By Michael Weeder Time of article published Apr 27, 2019

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Beloved, it is time to break my Lenten-compelled silence with regard to the baptism of Baby Sussex.

When wisdom eventually prevails and the Lord Chamberlain, as commanded by Her Majesty, invites me, if not to assist in the christening, then at least to be present, I would have only one wish. Namely to have the full choir of St Cyprian, Langa accompany me to the UK and to share in the liturgy in the Chapel Royal in St James’s Palace on that occasion.

It would be good to have this celebrated choir sing an appropriate canticle and a restrained version of Lizalis’idinga lakho (Fulfil your Promise) on an occasion when a royal child of African descent is inaugurated into the Kingdom of God.

This idea came to mind during the singing of a hymn at the renewal of priestly vows on Maundy Thursday. The guest conductor, Mveleli Radebe, his head bowed to the right, gently caressed the air in small curved hand movements. The alto and voices were coaxed into subliminal harmony as a mezzo-soprano and a countertenor filled our ears and hearts with the sound of God’s love.

Let me say, though, that the christening has been on the minds of many of the good people of our city. And I was recently made aware of it in the most unexpected of ways.

On Ash Wednesday, the lingering taste of Shrove Tuesday’s cinnamon-dusted pancakes danced on my fasting mouth as I stood in line at Pick * Pay in Mowbray.

As I pondered whether it was harmful to play the Lotto during Lent, I became aware that I was the subject of an intense stare. (Let me just declare at this point, to you who point fingers while the whole of Newlands Forest crowds your outlook on life, that I have an arrangement with myself that when I eventually win back the donations I have made over the years to various charities via the Lottery - plus a few millions more - that I will share 10% with those to whom the Spirit leads me. Yes, even those whom I love but who irritate me and whom I can’t even stand.)

Eventually the silent scrutiny was broken by, “As salaam alaikum...” I turned, and my “Wa alaikum as-salaam” was met by an excited, “Oh, I thought you’re the Imam from the Al Azhar Mosque in Aspling Street, but now I see you’re the Imam from the Cathedral!”

My fellow shopper - Yusrah Bennett, I later learnt - was from Gatesville. She followed up our exchange of courtesies with the question I have been asked so many times: “How is Meggs doing?” While a Cathedral faithful peered into my shopping basket, I denied any familial link to the Duchess of Sussex. This was seen as a sign of my humility and I was assured that DNA don’t lie and the truth was there in our nose shape and skin tone.

In hushed tones Yusrah beckoned me to stand closer. Her niece, who works in one of the royal places in London, had apparently overheard Cuzzin Meg say: “Oe gottallah, ek kannie mee die ghoes se majat sturvigheid vattie!”

This is almost impossible to translate, but suffice to say the alleged snobbery of Kate was being highlighted. Shame. I responded that I hoped they would sort out their differences soon. I quite like Kate and I think the two ladies are victims of circumstances beyond their control. “Yes,” affirmed Yusrah, “it’s not so lekka to be with child and still having to stress.”

I must say that when the invitation finally lands on the Deanery doorstep, it will come, as President says, “as quite a shock”.

* The Very Rev Michael Weeder is the Dean of St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Weekend Argus

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