‘Madiba was once a boy, like us’

2013-06-13 17:06

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A group of young boys from Qunu in the Eastern Cape have joined the chorus of well-wishers for former president Nelson Mandela’s speedy recovery.

Today, about 15 boys were singing and dancing around Qunu, close to Mandela’s residence, as they prepared to undergo be circumcised during the winter season.

Taking part in what is known as ukugubha, where boys celebrate the last days of their boyhood before they go to initiation school, for traditional circumcision, they moved around the village asking for gifts such as chickens and money to take to the initiation school.

The boys brought life to the otherwise quiet village of Qunu, as they danced and took part in stick fighting, with their clothes heavily torn up, to symbolise that they had forsaken their boyhood ways and were now ready to wear new clothes.

Swaphiwo Qholi (18) who goes to the initiation school in Elliotdale tomorrow for his traditional circumcision ritual said he hoped Mandela would get better.

“We want him to be among us here in the village as an elder so that he can pass on his wisdom to us,” said the Nkalana Junior Secondary School Grade 9 learner.

Qholi, who is also of the Madiba clan, said he was proud to be associated with Mandela, who was respected the world over.

“I am inspired to take this journey to manhood because of people like Tata. He also went through this same journey, because he was once a boy and had to go through this rite of passage to manhood. I fear nothing now and I believe I can overcome anything,” he said.

Another boy, Luyanda Qolomashe (18), also wished Madiba a speedy recovery in hospital where he is being treated for a recurring lung infection.

Qolomashe said he was 10 years old when he last saw Madiba in Qunu when he used to host Christmas parties for children.

“I used to enjoy those Christmas parties. We were given school bags with all sorts of goodies. We would eat and play with kids from other areas of the country. Those were some really good time, we miss Tata Mandela a lot here in Qunu,” he said.

He said he was also undergoing traditional circumcision tomorrow and hoped he would be a good man and emulate Madiba.

“He is our leader and our hero. We hope that after we come back from the mountain (initiation school) we shall be responsible men, men that Madiba and our village of Qunu can be proud of,” said Qolomashe.

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