• Lorraine Johnson

[38] At The Base Of A Tree

They danced Nakwale—at the base of a tree—the imbondeiro—on the Island of Ibo off the coast of Cabo Delgado. It's a dance of tradition carried out by elders, danced to beckon the rain to moisten the dry land. The young try to join and mimic the movements.


For three days they dance and on the morning of the fourth, just after the sun has risen, the people join together their offerings of food, sura, nipa, tobacco, incense, and a candle. And a ceremony is had, a ceremony that calls the ancestors. A ceremony that can only take place at the base of a grand tree—this particular imbondeiro, for if not, the rain will not fall.


The offerings are laid at its roots, and the people speak and ask for rain, to enrich the dry soil and bring food to the village.


On this fourth and last day of the ceremony, the day we met Viaza and Awa—it rained—steady and heavy for about three hours—under the moonless sky of a wanting night and the lingering rhythm of a dance's flight.