James McGowan aka Piperjames aka South Africa’s royal bagpiper aka War Piper 4 Mighty Men will walk 1 500km from Cape Town to Mooi River to pipe-up support for the Kwazulu-Natal Mighty Men Conference (KZN-MMC) in October.
The colourful piper who has played at Queen Elizabeth’s dinner table, the wedding of Lady Diana Spencer and Prince Charles, the Edinburgh Military Tatoo (as the lone piper), the opening of the South African Parliament, and most recently at the Mighty Men Conferences in Paarl and Middelburg, will cover the distance solo over eight weeks from August 20. He will be wearing his Mighty Men tartan kilt, piping as he goes, chatting to people and encouraging men to join the KZN-MMC.
And the big question on MMC observers’ minds is whether this extreme piping will lure Mighty Men founder Angus Buchan to the “In The Hidden Valley” MMC on Southern Cross Farm on the banks of the Mooi River. After hosting Mighty Men Conferences on his Greytown farm, Shalom, for seven consecutive years Buchan passed the baton to younger men who organised MMC events in various parts of South Africa. Oficially Buchan agreed to address the MMC events at Paarl, Polokwane and Middelburg earlier this year. He recently returned from a successful campaign in Belfast Northern Ireland. At Paarl and Middelburg, Buchan, a farmer-evangelist of Scottish descent struck up a good rapport with Piperjames who moved from theUnited Kingdome to South Africa five years ago to marry Ina Murison who recently designed the beautiful Mighty Men tartan which has been registered under an Act of Parliament of Scotland. Another point to ponder is that Mooi River, just 70km from Shalom, is virtually in Buchan’s backyard. All of these intriguing details fuel speculation about Buchan’s intentions in October. But as with all MMC events, organisers will remind men that the weekend is about Jesus and not about Buchan. And indeed it is!
Meanwhile, ardent ‘bok supporter Piperjames will surely score points with local “manne” on the route when he dresses in full Springbok kilt and pipe as the ‘Amabokkepiper’, helping to get the nation fired up for the World Cup this year on the day of the week that has become known by all South Africans as ‘Bok Fridays’.
The Mighty Men movement began with some 200 men gathering at Shalom in 2004. At the 7th and final MMC at Shalom there were hundreds of thousands of men camping at the venue for the weekend and the movement has spread abroad to places such as the United Kingdom and Australia, reflecting a hunger in men to make right with God. Two significant personal milestones for Piperjames along the route will be his 50th birthday on September 16 and his 5th wedding anniversary on October 18.