62 female initiates proud to graduate in traditional way to womanwood
FOR the first time in 35 years, the village of Gopane near Zeerust witnessed the graduation of 62 female initiates.
The women were drawn from Gopane and neighbouring villages like Moshana, Lekubu, Borothamadi, Ntsweletsoku and Mosweu.
The ceremony on September 9 and 10 also attracted women from Ramotswa in Botswana.
Two months ago, Gopane village welcomed 143 male initiates who successfully completed their initiation rites without any incidents reported.
The success in the male category saw women aged between 18 and 58 piling pressure on the royal family saying they too needed to be honed for the advancement of the Setswana tradition and culture.
Cultural activists Goitsemany Jabane and Keatlaretse Seane were tasked to run the initiation school as deputy principal and teacher respectively.
“The traditional school for women is almost the same as that of men in relation to good conduct, respect for adults and all, and fending and putting the family together and upholding the teachings of the school by not being involved in anything illegal.
“It is incumbent upon every initiate to listen and uphold the teachings as well as continuous consultation and advice from her mentors about life in general so that she can become a better person in her community and society,” Seane said.
Jabane said of the 62 initiates graduating, none of them was involuntarily recruited into the school.
“Nobody was abducted or forced to join the school and we can proudly say that all 62 women took their own decisions based on different reasons to be part of the school,” she said.
One of the initiates Oratile Senosi, 20, who works in Gauteng said that she was proud to have undergone initiation and thanked her ancestors for her protection as well as upholding her tradition and culture.
Initiate Selina Letshabo, 58, from Mosweu village said she took a firm decision on her own to be part of the school.
“I knew all the customs and values of my culture like marriage and childbearing but not about the traditional initiation rite to womanhood. I’m very proud of myself as I was also the only one in my family to have not done this,” she said.
Another initiate, Tebogo Maphunye, 48, a mother of four said it was necessary that she completed this process.
She thanked her teachers for the sterling job and assistance as well as the value they have added to her life.
Steven Tselakae, a traditional healer, was responsible for both male and female initiation processes to make sure that everything went according to custom.
“It is important to protect initiates with traditional medicines against mishaps during initiation because they are exposed to unexpected pressures and tests during the process.
“It is important to mention initiation is not just a normal school but an ancestral calling and connection regarding their individual clans and purpose,” he said.
Kgosigadi Gorata Thandi Seboko led a team of women from Ramotswa village in neighbouring Botswana.
Kgosigadi said the importance of clay (letsoku) applied on graduates symbolises the place they have been as well as a transition from childhood to womanhood.
“The attire (the skin of the lamb) symbolise a cultural feast,” she said.
Speaking on behalf of the Bahurutshe ba ga Gopane royal family, Reetsang Gopane wished the women graduates well.
“In 2015, the royal family and the community took a firm resolution to revive their traditions and customs, hence the positive results of the traditional leadership in the village.
“We are also determined to uphold our tradition including myself as I used to be scared,” she said.
ADVANCING TRADITION: Some of the female initiates in their traditional regalia as they went through their graduation after successfully completing their initiation rites.