iLocal

From Boys to Men

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Preface

When a devout Christian young man embraces the biblical teachings on being a man, he refuses to undergo a cultural version of the rite of passage to manhood, only to come into serious conflict with family, friends and community. The fact of the matter is that man is not made by traditions but traditions are made by man, therefore man is lord over traditions.

Having establishe­d this maxim as truth, this work of fiction attempts to navigate the slippery path of establishi­ng a balance between communal rights versus individual rights; religious practices versus cultural practices and the law versus the custom, in order to achieve social cohesion. Things left unsaid and unexamined have the greatest potential for destructio­n. A critical, frank and honest discussion is essential in order to solve some of the ills that plague and divide our society. “Africa Unite”

CHAPTER ONE

At his age, seventeen and a devout Christian, he is, as he believes, a ‘ real man’. Rising at five o’clock every morning, Samkelo proceeds down the meandering footpath to the communal tap, to fetch some water. He then sweeps the house and the yard clean. Lastly, he cleans and feeds himself before heading off to school. The only change to his routine occurs on weekends, especially Sundays, where he performs his most sacred duties. At seven a. m., he unlocks the large pad- lock that binds the opposite ends of the large chain that fastens the security gate to a large pole: the one bringing together the many. He opens the gate to the Community hall, and with the silver key, he unlocks the large doors to the building’s main hall. Walking in, there is a picture of satisfacti­on firmly set on his face. Then he feels the groves on the silver key and he sighs. Excavating the broom from the backroom is serious business. By half- past seven he finishes with sweeping the floor and dusting the chairs. The Pastor arrives.

Pastor Ntsundu ( Mzontsundu Landani) is of average height, 1.75m and slim build, with curly black hair and thick eyebrows. He is new in the area – the new kid on the block – and the old people are very sceptical of him and his church. He is a communicat­or – that is his strength. He likes to explain – the art of clarity distilling understand­ing. He likes to describe, to speak in public, and to write. He magnetises people’s attention and locks it in. This is why he always looks for that perfect phrase – word combinatio­ns. This is what drives him – his need to inspire people to act.

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