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versión On-line ISSN 2304-8557
versión impresa ISSN 0023-270X

Koers (Online) vol.76 no.3 Pretoria  2011


Some views of Xhosa women regarding the initiation of their sons


Xhosavroue se menings rakende die inisiasie van hulle seuns



M.A. Venter

School of Education, University of South Africa, Pretoria. E-mail:




Notwithstanding attempts from the Eastern Cape Department of Health and other organisations to regulate the process of initiation, each year initiates still die or are mutilated. The challenge is to keep the boys safe without interfering with the traditional customs. It appears that women's voices are rarely heard on this issue.
Through a literature review the author attempts to understand the rite of initiation from a cultural perspective. The general meaning and specific usage of concepts such as 'culture', 'traditional', and 'masculinity' are explained, as well as how these concepts are used in the article. A questionnaire was designed and administered to establish the views of Xhosa women on the ritual of initiation.
On comparing these results with results from previous research, it shows a decline in the number of women who favour the traditional way of initiation without medical intervention. Although this indicates a shift in women's views, a conflict is evident, as there is still overwhelming agreement that traditional initiation is a prerequisite for becoming a man who is respected by his community. The empirical research indicates that although women are forbidden to take part in discussions on this subject, some women did take the liberty to express their opinions.

Key concepts: initiation, Xhosa male initiation, Xhosa rites of manhood, Xhosa tradition, Xhosa women's views regarding initiation of boys


Ten spyte van pogings van die Oos-Kaapse Departement van Gesondheid en ander organisasies om die proses van inisiasie te reguleer, is daar jaarliks steeds seuns wat sterf of geskend word. Die uitdaging is om die seuns te beskerm sonder om met die tradisionele gebruike in te meng. Vroue se stemme word selde gehoor in gesprekke oor hierdie kwessie.
Deur middel van 'n literatuurstudie is gepoog om die rite van inisiasie vanuit n kulturele perspektief te verstaan. Die alge-mene betekenis en spesifieke gebruik van konsepte soos kul-tuur', 'tradisioneeT en 'manlikheid' word uitgeklaar en daar word verduidelik hoe hierdie konsepte in die artikel gebruik word. n Vraelys is opgestel en afgeneem om vas te stel wat die opinie van Xhosavroue ten opsigte van die rite van inisiasie is.
'n Vergelyking van hierdie navorsingsresultate met resultate wat voorheen verkry is, wys op 'n afname in die hoeveelheid vroue wat ten gunste is van tradisionele inisiasie sonder mediese in-tervensie. Alhoewel dit op n verandering in die vroue se mening dui, dui dit tog op 'n teenstrydigheid, aangesien daar steeds n algemene ooreenstemming is dat tradisionele inisiasie 'n voorwaarde is vir 'n man om deur sy gemeenskap gerespekteer te word. Die empiriese navorsing toon dat sommige vroue wel die vrymoedigheid gehad het om hulle opinies te lug, alhoewel vroue verbied word om aan gesprekke oor hierdie saak deel te neem.

Kernbegrippe: inisiasie, Xhosamans, inisiasie van, Xhosarituele vir mans, Xhosatradisie, Xhosavroue, opinie rakende inisiasie van seuns



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