The Dancing Nuns: Why We Did the Jerusalema
By Daluxolo Moloantoa – One of the most heartwarming stories to come out of the lockdown is that of the #JerusalemaChallenge.
People across the world have been dancing their way through lockdown with the locally-brewed song “Jerusalema” by local dance music maestro Master KG. From China to Mexico, groups of workers, students and even the elderly have been posting their videos of dancing to the catchy gospel-dance song.
The #JerusalemaChallenge has been trending for about six weeks.
Among the most popular videos in South Africa is one choreographed by the Dominican Sisters of Montebello from the Montebello mission in Ndwendwe, just outside Durban.
Their video has been liked over 2000 and shared over 3000 times.
Sr Emmarentia Thembelihle, on whose Facebook page the video was posted, said that the idea for the video came when the nuns were contemplating a way in which they could show support for the people who work with Covid-19 patients.
“Our calling as Dominicans is that we work with the sick, so taking part in the Jerusalema challenge was a way of asking for God’s protection and guidance, and to guard us in this difficult time of the coronavirus pandemic,” she said.
An enduring symbol of the Dominican Sisters’ calling is the Montebello Hospital in Ndwendwe, founded in 1925 to uplift the standard of living and improve the health of the local communities.
Apart from their involvement in health, the nuns are also involved in education as teachers at the mission’s Our Lady of the Rosary Secondary School.
“The song itself has become a global phenomenon, and it gives us a sense of joy and excitement to go through the rhythm and the dance”, Sr Thembelihle said.
The nuns were taken by surprise at the video’s success. “We never thought that the video would trend as much as it did, and that people would love it as much as they did. It has touched so many hearts, and we believe that this was another way of preaching the word of God to his people,” she said.
Of the eight Sisters who participated in the video, the oldest was Sr Thembelihle, who is 45, and the youngest Sr Immaculate Mbhele, 24. The video was shot in front of the Sisters’ chapel by Sr Sthembile Sithole.
Sr Thembelihle said she hopes the video helps show that even though the Sisters live in a closed community, they are also an integral part of the larger community, and that they too are praying for people affected by Covid-19.
“As Dominicans nuns we are called to preach the Gospel through words and actions. It is our way of responding to the call to show solidarity with every human being affected by the epidemic,” she said.
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