We care for nature during initiation - Chief

2015-07-03 20:20
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

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Cape Town - Around 300 young men were known to be undergoing initiation this winter in the Western Cape, with the chief who inspected the initiation sites provincially indicating they took "special care" to limit the environmental impact.

An overwhelming number of News24 readers voiced their concerns about possible damage to conservation areas after an announcement by the Western Cape ANC Youth League that a portion of the Table Mountain Reserve should be allocated for an initiation school as there was a shortage of available sites.

The season started at the end of May and finished towards the end of July, Chief Eric Galada told News24 on Friday. The rite of passage took between three and four weeks, he said.

The second season takes place between mid-November and mid-January.

Galada said there was definitely consideration for the environment.

“There is a time when we have to burn our huts where initiates were sleeping. For me to protect other indigenous plants, I know how to burn the hut and not anything else.”

On the two-hectare Langa site, they alternated between pieces of the land over the seasons to allow the shrubs and foliage to rest and rejuvenate.

Initiates had to bring their own hut-building material to ensure trees and branches were not chopped down on site.

Before initiates could participate in the rituals, they were taken to doctors to check they were not sick and could successfully complete the process. 

“They are issued with certificates and this is where I got this figure of 300 from. But there are also lots of illegal sites.”

Initiation involves certain rituals, including male circumcision, to mark a rite of passage to becoming a man.

The provincial cultural affairs department indicates there are 25 registered Western Cape initiation sites. 

Department spokesperson Tania Colyn said eight of these were in the Cape Metro – two each in Khayelitsha and Philippi and one each in Langa, Mfuleni, Delft and Driftsands Nature Reserve.

However, Galada said he only knew of memorandums of understanding for two sites, at Driftsands (with Cape Nature) and Langa (with the city of Cape Town).

At the time, Table Mountain spokesperson Merle Collins said they had not received a formal request and would have to investigate the feasibility of initiates on the sites, given the conservation mandate.

According to a 2010 Cultural, Linguistics, Religious Rights Commission public hearings report, initiation conferred the right to participate in clan and family decision making; to share in community privileges, duties and responsibilities and, in many instances, to take a wife and raise a family.

Public hearing participants complained there were often inadequate spaces for initiation, particularly in urban areas, and frequently no space for seclusion.

Read more on:    cape town  |  initiation

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