I was asked my Bhekimuzi’s Sister, Thoko, to speak at his funeral this past Saturday (4/25). How humbling!!! I was soooooo very nervous and touched at the same time. Of course, I said yes. I wrote down a small speech and we headed to the township of Embo.
Unfortunately, we got lost on the way and ended up being about 45 minutes late. We were greeted by Bhekimuzi’s family members and one of the care-workers from the Respite Unit. They had waited to begin until we arrived. The funeral was at Bhekimuzi’s home under a large “circus” style tent. These tents are shared by the people in the townships for all different events: funerals, weddings, birthdays, and other get togethers. We were ushered into the tent and given seats right in the front. The casket was in front of us next to a table of pastors and community elders. The funeral began and I honestly can say I’ve never had a more incredible experience.
The entire group begins singing songs that are simply breath-taking. They are dancing and singing and truly celebrating a LIFE. After each song, a family member would speak about Bhekimuzi. Our friend, Queeneth, helped us out by translating some of the parts of their tributes. Each person that spoke also thanked me (and the Respite Unit) for taking such great care of him and for being such a blessing to their community. I felt so humbled and proud to be part of such an amazing group at the Respite. Then, it was my turn to speak. I stood in front of the large crowd and have never been so nervous!!!! I explained that I only speak minimal Zulu and that Queeneth would translate for me. It was an absolute privilege for me to be a part of this tribute and I WILL NEVER FORGET IT.
After a few hours of speeches and singing, we moved out to the burial site down the hill from his house. There was more singing and dancing and praise. Once finished, we all went into the tent to have a beautiful, traditional Zulu meal. The group of family and friends were so welcoming and gracious. Everyone thanked me for speaking and thanked us for being there. I haven’t gotten that many hugs in a long time. I honestly can barely express the joy that Bhekimuzi and his family has brought into my life. I’m so thankful for being a part of such a special tribute.