My host mother has 5 grown children. Of those grown children (3 daughters, 2 sons), the daughters all have children that stay with their grandmother, my host mother. The sangoma celebration was the first time since I have been at site that all of my host mother's children and grandchildren were all together. My self-appointed duty was to get all of the grown children together for a picture. This turned out to be a difficult task. In my experience, there is no middle ground for photos among the Tswana people. Either someone loves getting their picture taken and will go out of his or her way to get their picture or someone hates getting their picture taken and he or she will make sure you know it when you take the picture, if you manage to that is. I think it is fair to say it is largely age related. Although, I might be misunderstanding a different philosophy on how pictures are to be taken but more on that later. Regarding the family picture, I failed because I waited until the next morning and one of the daughters left under the cover of darkness. This is a fine example of how far someone will go not to have there picture taken. I did manage to get the other four children and my host mother in one shot.
Smiling faces and the evil eye from the older woman sitting down
Now that is a nice picture I think. It took a long time to wrestle up all the children and along the way some other people joined in because they thought I wanted to get their picture too and I didn't have the heart to tell them to scram. As you can see, most everyone is smiling and/or mid laugh. There are a few exceptions and this is the point I mentioned earlier, some people just don't smile. There are two women in the picture who are giving the same look and did so in every other picture too. It looks more like the pose they would give if they were having someone draw their portrait. Smiling is just not their style. Likewise, the man in the middle is not looking at the camera. I took several pictures of him and he purposefully never looks at the camera. I think his goal is a sort of faux candidness. Again that is just how he takes pictures. This is similar to how some people cannot take a picture without giving the sideways peace sign/thumbs up, acting the fool, pouting his/her lips etc. It's not something that deserves any guff because that is how that person wants to be remembered-- so be it I say! Well I want you to see the next picture as a foil to this first one.
That's right little one, learn the ways of the smile. It is strong in you.
As you can see, a major difference is that I am in this one. Do you notice anything else? I am sure you have noticed that there are a lot of hard looks and not many smiling faces. This picture is saying 1000 words but those words probably distill down to “I do not want to take a picture with this goober”. Ok, I don't think they all hate me. I am leaving out some important context. The cause for the big difference between the pictures is that in the first one I said an absolutely hilarious joke and it killed. The joke was me saying “smile” in Setswana. This was in contrast to when the other man took the second picture. His button pressing was haphazard and he did not make it clear that everyone should be ready. Moreover, there was concern that he didn't know what he was doing. Nevertheless, the picture was taken and I wouldn't want it any other way, it's much better this way.