PRIME Minister Thomas Thabane’s weekend wedding ceremony was an event that could have been taken straight from the storylines of Chinua Achebe, one of Africa’s most revered storytellers of the modern era.
The legendary Nigerian author once described the perfect setting for a human being to achieve his ultimate goals as one where the ordinary mortal and the gods both said yes to the occasion and looking at the Sunday setting at Setsoto Stadium, it was clear from the weather and the carnival atmosphere that the gods and men had conspired to make the event a memorable one.
From as early 6am, ordinary people were already streaming into the stadium, in attire that turned the venue into a veritable cascading kaleidoscope of green, red, blue, white, black and yellow- the chosen colour of Dr Thabane’s ruling All Basotho Convention party.
Lesotho generally endures chilly wintry mornings but on Sunday, even the cold held its peace and allowed the bright sunshine to stream into the stadium gently caressing and kissing the faces of all the guests- as if a photo-journalist was in charge of the natural elements to ensure that all captured images were truly photogenic.
The same gods conspired to resurrect the late South African music diva, Brenda Fassie to belt out one of her immortal wedding anthems, Vulindlela which admonishes jealous relatives to open the way and allow the festivities to proceed without any hitches.
The bridegroom was the first to arrive, resplendent as any man should be on his big day-in the grey, white and cream theme of the occasion.
There was never a dull moment as horsemen, famo artistes and other exuberant characters eased what would have otherwise be an impatient wait for the bride and her train. The bride seemed to take forever although it was likely this was more in the minds of the crowd who could not wait to see the bridal dress.
And when she did finally appear, the bride ‘Maesaiah Thabane looked every inch the part with her glittering cream, gold and white gown that seemed to sweep the stadium and stretch to all corners of the Kingdom as she elegantly walked down the aisle that was the red carpet to her husband’s side on the stage. The stage was thoughtfully appointed in the centre of the pitch.
Those that love symbolism whispered that the choice of the stadium and the central location in the pitch was indicative of the centrality of the couple to the political life of the nation- it’s very heartbeat.
And unlike Chinua Achebe’s well-heeled politicians who make ordinary people stand in the scorching heat while they are sheltered in cool tents, Dr Thabane and the bride practically sat through the entire function with only the sky as their umbrella.
It was only at the tail end that one of the bridal party decided to bring out an umbrella but to all intents and purposes, the point had been made that the couple identified with ordinary people and did not seek any creature comforts for themselves.
And when the vows were exchanged, Dr Thabane could not wait to plant his lips on his coy bride who declared her undying love for the man entrusted with Lesotho’s political fortunes for the next five years.
“I love Ntate Tom with all my heart and I don’t want him to get hurt, let him live his life in peace,” ‘Maesaiah Thabane said to loud applause and ululations in the African way.
The kiss was a spectacle, demonstrating that in love, all human beings react the same ways from the statesman to the ordinary shepherd somewhere in the beautiful highlands of the Mountain Kingdom.
Even though there he had so much joy, the Prime Minister was coy when it came to that moment.
Watching him close his eyes to kiss the bride yesterday was the ultimate reminder of that truism about love.
Love is the one thing we all have in common as one sage famously remarked.
No matter who you are and where you are the questions and the answers are the same. Love is a universal language spoken and understood by all.
It is language that was spoken by the newly-weds and understood by all who shared in the big day.
It was a language that brought Dr Thabane’s SADC colleague and former schoolmate, Swaziland Prime Minister Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini to Lesotho.
Dr Thabane and Dr Dlamini attended the-then Pius XII Catholic University College at Roma.
Dr Thabane has already vowed to ensure that Lesotho will no longer the ‘bad boy’ of the region with its chronic instability.
For once SADC were not here to listen to political squabbles but to witness the celebration of love- a good omen perhaps for all those who want to see more such celebratory visits rather than fire-fighting missions.