OPINION: Stop invading initiation sites

Phiri Cawe

Land-grabbing around Cape Town has been a hot topic for a long time – and while I understand that people need land to live on, I draw the line at these land invaders who occupy traditional initiation sites.

Sadly the grabbers do not give a hoot where they grab – whether it is low lying or not, they grab; and whether it is used as an initiation site or not, they grab. And this is a major problem for those who practise and believe in the culture of ulwaluko (traditional circumcision).

The government has been barking like a toothless dog at the land-grabbers, and has been long defeated by the courts of the country. Each time people invade the land they run to court and often win the cases. This means in the long run, residents of Gugulethu, Nyanga, Philippi and Langa who intend to prepare boys for the responsibilities of manhood will not be able to do so because the local initiation sites will no longer be available.

I must urge real men to stand up and protect circumcision school sites against land occupations in the metro.

Men – and by this I mean people who have been to the initiation school and got the teachings of manhood – cannot stand by and allow land invaders to occupy these sacred sites.

Our culture and cultural practices must be protected.

This is a culture that we can not stop performing just nje. With invaders running amok, the debate over initiation sites and land grabbing must be reignited. Forgive me if I sound disrespectful, but I feel those who occupy every piece of land they see, are selfish people who care about nothing else but their own selfish interests.

You will hear some suggesting that initiates should go to the Eastern Cape, but that undermines the rights of Cape Town’s people to practise initiation at home.

Maxhalanga ndidleni. I find it irresponsible to occupy land illegally whether you want a house or home.

And I stand by my statement. Over the years Capetonians have lost their initiation sites and I feel the people of Gugulethu, Nyanga, Khayelitsha, Langa and other areas deserve better from amagoduka. People from Mfuleni, Langa, KTC and other areas deserve more respect than what you are giving them.

Allow me to remind you that these people fought hard to live permanently in Cape Town.

If we say we respect our cultures and customs, let’s show that by not messing up every piece of land we have. But most importantly, stay away from initiation sites. You took Marikana, Phillipi and some places in Khayelitsha and we are expected to accept that.

You are led by mostly uncircumcised people who do not care about our practices and we are expected to turn a blind eye and shut up.

Sithi bhuti emakhwenkweni for fear of the unknown. You came from far to be scared of a boy because he calls himself a leader. Occupy whatever land but leave initiation sites for our children and generations to come. Respect for our practices will take us far.