Hudson Valley Parent magazine editor witnesses joyful celebration

Trip to South Africa over Easter break

When my daughter and I were travelling to South Africa over Easter break, I had hoped to be able to see some religious service to mark the occasion.  In 2009, when I took my oldest to Paris, she slept in while I walked off to a nearby church (my gosh, there had to be one on every corner, and not just a church, usually a cathedral of some type with all the perks and tall spires) for an Easter mass in French.

On Good Friday, we were on a tour bus visiting nearby towns outside Capetown. It was not your usual vacation-type tour, as we were shown some of the poorest parts of the area. Small, shanty-type dwellings holding more people than it should, rampant unemployment, everyday struggles to eat, to survive.  From the van window, I actually watched a child rummage through the garbage, find a tossed out carton of eggs. She opened the lid, and from what I could see there may have been a few broken shells stuck to the bottom, but she closed it up and placed it into her plastic shopping bag. From the corner of my eye, I saw that Caroline watched as well.

I came to the realization that perhaps this tour, advertised as a way to see some of the culture of South Africa may have also meant to bring in some needed dollars, especially having been brought to a ramshackle display table with small painted souvenirs. But, I wasn't going to ask questions. 

Our driver, a friendly and well-meaning man, began driving towards some music that grew louder with every block we passed. He asked if we'd like to see a Good Friday service here in town. The small tour group, maybe 8 of us nodded, and with cameras in hand, we were ushered into this enormous aluminum building, packed with well dressed men and women, teens, toddlers and babies. It was apparent that the service had going on had been in full swing for awhile.  Sweat poured down the faces of the singers, and the crowd was on its feet. 

We found a row of empty chairs in the back, and stood and filmed.  We swayed with the music, and it was like whatever else was going on outside this place just didn't exist for this time.  There was just the joy and camaraderie as the video I took will show. 

We stayed for about 45 minutes, and when our driver finally collected us back in the van, we asked how long it will go on.  He looked at his watch and said, "it's about 4 now, it will go on until about 9 tonight."  Nine oclock?  A few on the bus gasped.  "You're kidding," one said.  "No," our driver replied.  "But, they do leave for dinner and then come back."

Such an amazing experience.