Safe rites for BaSotho, AmaHlubi

Daily Dispatch photojournalist Lulamile Feni was given the first ever access to the homecoming ceremonies of BaSotho and AmaHlubi initiates

TRADITIONAL male initiation should be a time of rejoicing as a boy’s passage to manhood is celebrated, although for many families in the Eastern Cape it has brought terrible sadness.

Thirty-nine initiates died in the December circumcision season although, strictly speaking, not all the deaths were as a result of circumcisions going wrong.

Both the BaSotho and AmaHlubi say they invest in a powerful herbalist to ensure that their initiates are safe from evil spirits.

Both groups ensure that each boy attending initiation has parental consent as well as the consent of a traditional leader and that he has undergone all the family rituals and a mandatory precircumcision medical examination.

“Initiation here is a communal responsibility and the safety of the initiates is supreme,” said Lebenya.