Rural roots for Mantashe’s sons

MAKE WAY: Kamva Mphathisi Mantashe is led to the family animal kraal by his traditional nurse Lonwabo Mantashe and father Gwede Mantashe.
MAKE WAY: Kamva Mphathisi Mantashe is led to the family animal kraal by his traditional nurse Lonwabo Mantashe and father Gwede Mantashe.
As the son of one of the ANC’s most senior leaders, a career in politics would be almost a given, but Kamva Mphathisi Mantashe wants to carve his own path and pursue his passion for farming. 

Gwede Mantashe’s youngest son hoped to turn his dream into a reality eventually, however thanks to gifts received at his umgidi (tradition initiation homecoming) in Lower Cala village in Cala over the weekend, he can begin right away.

Guests attending the event gave the 18-year-old more than 10 heads of cattle, sheep and goats, in line with the traditional practice of ukusoka where gifts including knives, livestock and money are given.

Venda traditional leader Chief Livhuwani Matsila presented Kamva with five heifers, five ewes and five goats.

With more than 30 livestock to his name, the first-year University of Western Cape law student can call himself an emerging farmer, which some men double his age can only dream of.

Kamva, who will turn 19 on December 18, attended traditional initiation school for three weeks, beginning July 2, and returned home last Friday.

The sleepy village of Lower Cala, Mantashe’s rural home, was a hive of activity with his homecoming with expensive vehicles seen along dusty streets and rural women ululating and dancing to celebrate with the well-known Mantashes who are of the AmaQwathi clan.

Kamva is the youngest of Mantashe and wife Nolwandle’s four children, Chuma, Mbasa (both girls) and son, Buyambo.

Instead of shouting politician slogans, this past weekend Mantashe was evoking the spirits of his ancestors and that of the AmaQwathi, saluting and paying allegiance to living traditional leaders of AmaQwathi and showing respect to visiting royals.

Prince Dabulingwe Ndzima, speaking behalf of Chief Zwelakhe Dalasile, who is the head the AmaQwathi, said Gwede’s grandfather John Mlatha Mantashe was the most respected farmer in Cala with close to 200 cattle.

“Farming is in the blood of the Mantashe as Gwede himself has more than 100 cattle. We hope that Kamva will follow in their footsteps,” he said, adding that Mantashe had followed traditional protocol with Kamva’s ceremony.

“In March he travelled to Ngcobo to inform Chief Zwelakhe Dalasile that Kamva will undergo initiation in July,” he said.

Although umgidi is about celebrating – singing and dancing, eating meat and drinking alcohol – it is starts with ukuyala, where elderly men and women address the new man and follows with ukusoka – where well-wishers give him presents.

Speaking at the ceremony where Mantashe gave his son a heifer, the proud father wished his son well saying: “Now as a man, you have some responsibilities. As a man we must see that in your action and character. You must make sure that you keep your home safe and look after your community as a responsible man in society. Your must never bring the family name into disrepute.”

Kamva’s traditional nurse was his cousin Lonwabo Mantashe, a police constable, who took leave to look after him and was assisted by Kamva's brother, who is studying agriculture in China.

Speaking to the Dispatch, Kamva thanked his parents for letting him travel another step in life and promised not to disappoint them.