Rapper Anatii has challenged stigmas around several topics‚ including the sacred Xhosa initiation ceremony ulwaluko‚ on his latest single in an attempt to educate through art.
The Hours hitmaker released the track Thixo Onofefe this week to celebrate his birthday. Anatii said the song was inspired by a number of cultural elements including his experiences during his own initiation.
“I have always been plugged into my Xhosa culture and heritage. Going through the right of passage‚ ulwaluko‚ I connected more with that and understood my role in society‚ more so as a Xhosa man. I gained a broader understanding of building my relationship with God. Thixo Onofefe is my spiritual prayer and awakening‚ asking for a revival of good spirits‚ casting away sins and demons‚ impressing that goodness always prevails.”
The rapper added that he addressed the ceremony in the song‚ often through wordplay and references.
“The vibes of the song take me back to that time and the element is in there. It is not often that it is spoken about and so I touch on it in broad terms‚ using word play‚ and leave it up to interpretations. I decided to open about the culture because I want to export our culture on a global scale and people are more drawn to real things and experiences.”
The traditional initiation ceremony has received widespread media coverage over the last few years with the release of several documentaries on the practice and the Oscar-shortlisted film Inxeba (The Wound)‚ which had people talking over its portrayal of the ceremony in a tale about a gay factory worker who travels to the rural area of his family’s origin to be circumcised.
Anatii said he could not comment on the film’s portrayal of the ceremony but that it was important to balance sensitivity with education in conversations about it.
“I can’t comment on The Wound in particular because I have not watched the film and how it is portrayed‚ but generally I think there is still a lot of stigmas attached to the ceremony. You have to respect it but at the same time people can still learn about it through artistic interpretations. The most important thing about art is people learning and to educate them.”
Anatii said he hoped the single would also inspire others to have the courage to shake off their demons.
“The whole theme of the song is addressing my demons and helping people with their own demons in their lives. I’m addressing the challenges broadly because demons come in many forms and can be anything that drags you down. I just want to get the positivity back.”
Take a listen to Thixo Onofefe below: