62 fe­male ini­ti­ates proud to grad­u­ate in tra­di­tional way to wom­an­wood

Afro Voice (Western Cape) - - North West News - ELFAS TORERAI AND SHIRLEY MONTSHO elfast@the­newage.co.za

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.

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