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.

 

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