Saturday, April 21, 2007

Tshegofatso's Birthday

Just following the closing of Refeng-Thabo for the end of first quarter, we were lucky to share in the celebration of Tshegofatso (Say-ho-fat-so) Motale’s first birthday party. The family that lives in the main house (we’re in the guest house) has four kids, Lerato (17), Kagiso (12), Reatlhele (4), and Tshegofatso (1). It worked out perfectly that the party was set for the day before we were to leave for vacation.

In Sotho and Zulu culture a child’s first birthday is the biggest birthday celebration of his or her life. It is also the first time that the child eats meat, which is fed to him or her by his or her grandparents. The meat itself is that of a sheep that is slaughtered the day before the party (in this case it was slaughtered in our backyard) and every part of the sheep is used. The night before the party the men (including Andy) gathered to eat the tripe (I call it “insides”) and the head of the sheep was to be cooked the Monday after the party (we missed that because we were on vacation).

We happened to be out when the sheep was actually slaughtered, which was a big disappointment to the family (the word “vegetarian” doesn’t translate into Sesotho or Zulu). It was made up to us by leaving the sheep’s head in our house throughout the party. If you look closely, you can see that the women are working on the sheep’s head in one of the pictures.

The kids were at the party by 1pm and mostly cleared out after dark, when the jumping castle was finally deflated. The adults, especially Tshegofatso’s grandparents, kept the party going long after the guest of honor was put to bed (see the photo of Andy with Grandpa Motale…)

Little Tshegofatso wore his birthday hat (knitted by Kate) straight through the party.

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