Youths stay true to their roots

2018-06-07 06:00
The Bhaca girls during their dance at Lwandle Taxi Rank on Saturday 2 June.PHOTO: velani ludidi

The Bhaca girls during their dance at Lwandle Taxi Rank on Saturday 2 June.PHOTO: velani ludidi

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In a bid to preserve their culture and help reduce teenage pregnancy levels and other social ills, the Bhaca nation in the greater Lwandle area runs a school for both boys and girls.

The school, Umzila wamaBhaca, teaches Bhaca culture to the youth. According to the nation’s customs, girls’ virginity is regularly tested.

The school held a traditional dance event, which was captured on camera, at the Lwandle Taxi Rank on Saturday 2 June. The event featured virgins up to the age of 30.

Bhaca prince Lindile Makaula said the video, which will be reworked into a DVD format, will be sent to their elders in the Eastern Cape.

Makaula explained that the event aims at showing those in the homeland that “we are still keeping our ways.

“We also want to thank the young girls and boys for their dedication in keeping the culture by showing them off in public,” he said, “we want to let them know we proud of them.

“The Western ways have failed to prevent our children from falling pregnant at a young age and being infected with sexually transmitted diseases.”

The after-school facility was established in 2013, and boasts many branches in the Western Cape.

Gogo Mazulu Jekwa (75) is the person responsible for testing virginities. “The girls are not only from the Bhaca nation,” she explained. “There are other nations who like what we are doing and send their children to us.”

According to 24-year-old Athandile Ngalonkulu, one of the participants, the testing is done annually.

She said: “Every year we go to KwaZulu-Natal or the Eastern Cape for Umhlanga [the annual virginity testing ceremony], where the elders will check if we are doing the correct thing.” Ngalonkulu added she first started the practice as an eight-year-old.

“I like being here and thank my parents for sending me, because we get taught how to conduct ourselves,” she said. “If a man is serious about you, he will wait and marry you before sleeping with you.

“I will wait for the man who will go to my parents and ask for my hand in marriage.”

According to Makaula, many people believe the Bhaca are stuck in yesteryear. “They say we must move with the times,” he related. “This is an after-school programme that keeps children occupied while parents work. They learn more about their origins as we save them from social ills.”

The Bhaca king is expected to visit the school in September.

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