It’s all systems go for the homecoming umgidi ceremony of fluent Xhosa-speaking teenager Chad Baling, 18, after he successfully underwent the ancient Xhosa ulwaluko initiation rite to manhood.
Baling’s big day of festivities will be accompanied by traditional song and dance with an abundance of meat and alcohol.
It is set for December 18.
Baling, who had been staying with a Xhosa family in Sunnyridge since March after finding himself homeless, begged the head of the family Xolile Bungu, 72, to send him to the mountain just like many Xhosa teenagers.
“This boy took out a R100 note and gave it to me and said he would like to get circumcised just like other Xhosa boys. I laughed out loud but then agreed to take him to the clinic for medical screenings, which went well.”
Bungu, eldest brother of world boxing icon Vuyani Bungu, opened his home to Baling after his daughter Sisipho Bungu, 16, who met Chad at school, brought him home earlier this year.
“Sisipho told me about this boy at school who was homeless and who was mixing with wrong people, and she asked me if she could bring him here to stay with us.”
During an interview with the Dispatch outside his hut at an initiation school yesterday, Baling said he had spent most of his life with Xhosa families.
“I am not familiar with white culture. I face lots of abuse from other whites who tell me to stop speaking Xhosa and practising the culture.
“When I was growing up my father used to hit me for speaking the language [Xhosa] in his house.”
Baling’s mother died in 2007, and he was placed at the East London Child and Youth Care Centre when his father was arrested soon after the death of his mother.
“I stayed at the centre until I was kicked out in November 2015.
“I stayed at various addresses with friends until I was homeless.
“Then I met Sisipho at Baysville High. Xhosa culture has always been part of me.”
Baling said he had spent more nights with Xhosa friends in townships than in former white suburbs.
“Before I came here I stayed at Scenery Park in Phase 1 with my friend Chumani James.
“I have always been treated well in townships.”
Sisipho said she felt depressed after she learnt that Baling was living a tough life of substance abuse.
“My friends are friends with Chad’s friends so they told me about his life of drugs and not eating and squatting at the places of wrong people so I spoke to my father.” — firstname.lastname@example.org