Let the imbongis sing!
Sunday, December 24
Psalm 96; Isaiah 9:2-7; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-20
Back in 1994 TV viewers all over the world watched transfixed, as South Africa’s first democratically elected president took the oath of office. While a dignified Nelson Mandela addressed the heads of state, many viewers wondered about the man dressed in leopard skins, standing directly behind him with a little flag stuck quaintly in his headgear. He was the imbongi—the praise-singer, who, according to Xhosa custom, had come from Mandela’s home region to recite his praises. Imbongis are regarded as specially gifted by God; they proclaim not out of their own wisdom, but are possessed and overwhelmed by the greatness of which they speak.
This article is available to subscribers only. Please subscribe for full access—subscriptions begin at $4.95. Already have an online account? Log in now. Already a print subscriber? Create an online account for no additional cost.