Fr. Matthew Charlesworth, S.J. | Pulling out all the stops for Independence Day

Pulling out all the stops for Independence Day

Pulling out all the stops for Independence Day

The school celebrated Zambia’s Independence Day with great festivities. I tried to take some videos of the day but I think I chose the wrong setting on my camera and the quality has come out rather poorly – though i think the sound is ok – it should give you some idea. I also didn’t know how to rotate some videos so please put your head on your shoulder while watching some of them…

There is a local Scout Troop which the boys in the school join and though they can’t afford the badges traditionally worn – they do a very good job at singing around camp-fires and practicing their marching;

The day started off with a school Mass for everybody. By everybody I mean that all the staff and students, Catholic and Non-Catholic (the other major denomination at the school are the Seventh Day Adventists) attended. The music at Mass typically involves a lot of drums and the children stand to show their devotion and enthusiasm. There are plenty of processions during the Mass and after Communion there is a great thanksgiving song and students freely go to the front of the Church and dance.

After Mass the school gathered outside and the Scout Troop (the younger boys) and the Cadet Force (the older boys) made a grand entrance:

Events such as these often carry some ritual and here there was a small outdoor ceremony where the National Flag was blessed and presented by the Guest of Honour – the head Justice of the local area – to the Scouts and Cadets who proceeded to raise the flag and sing the National Anthem.

The Scouts and Cadets were then formally inspected by the Guest of Honour. This was a torturous process in the heat and the gentleman Guest of Honour had to be led around in march-step to make sure that no-one was out of line. Having been inspected and found to be correct the Scouts and Cadets made an entrance onto the main sportsfield which for today had been turned into a parade-ground.

And an hour or so of ‘maneuvers’ were demonstrated. This had taken some many weeks of practice I’m told.

After that everybody moved into the School Hall for the formal speeches and the boys were reminded of the importance of Independence Day. The speeches were interspersed with various acts from Choir:


to dancing. There were two types of dances – modern and traditional, what they call ‘cultural’. The Cultural Dancing reflects, I’m told, aspects of the Tonga Culture – but from where I was sitting it looked more like something that falls short of freak dancing. Of course – this being an all-boys school, the junior boys were given the parts of the women to perform. Whatever else was going on on-stage, the crowd in the hall seemed to have a good laugh.

The modern dances are perhaps more recognisable and are testimony to the globalising forces of MTV.

What I think I appreciated most from comparing this event to other similar types of events I’d seen in South Africa and England is the very relaxed formalism. There had been no real practice or preparation for these inputs – the boys were just told to get onto the stage… and even once the performance had started – boys would suddenly stand up in the hall and decide they could help or do it better and ascended the stage and joined in.

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Pulling out all the stops for Independence Day by Fr Matthew Charlesworth, S.J. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International

Fr Matthew Charlesworth, S.J. is a South African Jesuit who blogs at Disclaimer: The proprietor and contributors to do not speak for the Society of Jesus or for the Catholic Church.

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