Drive-bys take the pain out of hatch, match and dispatch in lockdown
Lockdown is causing mayhem with funerals and weddings, but there’s an ingenious way to get around it
After her father’s sudden death from Covid-19 last month, Nomandla Mbolekwa and her family were so shocked that the thought of a memorial service didn’t cross their minds.
Their main concern was how to stick to the 50-person state-of-disaster limit at the funeral of Mncedisi Mbolekwa, Western Cape secretary of the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru).
“My dad was well known, so to come up with a list of who could come and who would have to be turned away from the funeral was very frustrating to say the least,” said Mbolekwa.
“We feared the restrictions on numbers would rob us and the people my father knew of having a decent send-off for him.”
But the family didn’t have to turn anyone away after arranging a “drive-by” memorial, a trend that has emerged during the pandemic. It allows people to grieve together, while maintaining social distance.
The concept is also being used for baby showers and weddings.
Mbolekwa said when her father’s colleagues suggested a drive-by memorial, her family welcomed the idea.
“We thought, why not! It would be better to have a drive-by memorial than not have anything at all. So we set up a table outside and, as the family, sat together around the table. People who knew my dad slowly drove past our home and got out at the table to drop off flowers or donations,” she said.
They ended up having two drive-by services, before Mbolekwa’s body was taken to Mthatha, in the Eastern Cape, for burial.
“As much as it was not a traditional way of grieving, we were happy that it was done that way,” said the trade unionist’s daughter. “It was such a beautiful send-off for my dad, who was so loved by people and who loved people back. It gave us closure.”
My friends could not even see the broad smile on my face because of the mask.Sisanda Tamba, who had a drive-by baby shower
Sisanda Tamba was relaxing at her Khayelitsha home in Cape Town recently when she heard cars hooting. When she went outside, she found her friends in their vehicles, waving and shouting: “Surprise!”
“It was a drive-by baby shower, which I never imagined, given the pandemic. But it felt so lovely to be appreciated like that,” said Tamba, 29, whose baby is due this week.
“When I got outside everything was in place. The décor and the arrangement of the table was on point. It was really special. What irritated me was the wearing of masks and the social distancing. My friends could not even see the broad smile on my face because of the mask,” she said. Tamba later connected with her friends virtually, opening gifts and playing baby-shower games.
At the weekend, Babalwa Tembani, 32, of Milnerton, Cape Town, who is due to give birth at the end of August, also had a surprise drive-by baby shower. “It only lasted 30 minutes, so it was short and sweet,” she said.
“I was excited and overwhelmed by the love shown by friends. I felt like a mini-celebrity, as everyone in the neighbourhood came out to witness it. It was very special and intimate.”
Couples who have had their marriage plans thrown into turmoil by lockdown are also embracing the drive-through concept, said wedding planner Danike Wasserman, owner of La Colline, an event venue in Port Elizabeth. She said the concept of micro weddings was gaining popularity and her establishment would hold its first this month.
“We have five drive-through micro weddings booked for the upcoming months. Basically what happens is cars are parked around the red carpet. No one comes out of the cars, as the point is not to have contact,” she said.
Drive-through weddings were not only intimate, but cheaper, “about a fifth of the cost of a normal wedding with reception”.
Wasserman said: “Everything is done outdoors and we have a sound system so guests can hear the exchange of vows.
“People who are showing interest in drive-through weddings are mainly those who have had to postpone their weddings several times due to lockdown regulations. It’s people who are doing it more for commitment than partying.”