Forum battles for initiation sites

SIYAVUYA KHAYA

The newly formed Gugulethu Initiation Forum is in a battle to get land in the townships which can be used to run initiation schools.

The forum feels the lack of space is depriving Cape Town residents of their right to practise their culture.

Ntandazo Ngcingca, member of the Gugulethu Initiation Forum, said winter was fast approaching and it was always challenging for the parents to send their boys to initiation schools then as there were no decent pieces of land which could also provide privacy.

Mr Ngcingca said they were making a desperate call to the local government in the Western Cape to at least provide land to the communities for people to practise this rite of passage.

He said the rituals conducted during the initiation period needed to be kept discreet and the current spaces they were forced to use were not appropriate because they were too open for the public to see what was happening.

They also fear the sites might be invaded by people who want to build shacks and live on the land.

“We are hoping to meet with the authorities to table our grievances. It is sad the councillors do not recommend for authorities to reserve land for initiation schools and we urge them to include this issue on their budget plans. We also appeal to the people not to invade the land that we current use for this rituals, “he said.

“The current land that we use is the one opposite to Stock Road bus interchange, but people are chopping the woods and now that bush has become too exposed to the public,” he said.

He said the forum wanted to review all the negative aspects plaguing the practice and restore its dignity.

The forum hopes to have a meeting with senior men around Cape Town to discuss the best ways to protect the ritual and teach initiates about the importance of manhood.

“The mission of this forum is also to define what is expected from the initiates and the guardians who are appointed to look after the initiates. Alcohol use is another factor that needs to be dealt with, and we strongly believe that if we can regulate alcohol in the initiation schools, we can mould initiates into becoming better fathers of tomorrow,” he said.

Mr Ngcingca told Vukani they also hoped to create cultural institutions that would teach young men how to behave as men and what society expected from them.

They also aim to create a platform for girls to teach them about the importance of womanhood.

Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport spokeswoman Tania Colyn told Vukani the department provided support to registered initiation sites.

Ms Colyn said besides hosting platforms for issues of initiation, the department also provided first-aid training to the carers of initiates.

“The department is committed in supporting safe initiation practices at registered sites across the provinces. Anyone or organisations that seek more information about how the department can help them can visit our website,” she said.