• Vol. 04
  • Chapter 11

The Initiation

I can breath a sigh of relief sitting wrapped in this blanket like a precious present. I am so lucky to be still warm in the upcoming storm.

I can still see their lifeless bodies through my dried up eyes, their spirits crying out in anguish. The unbearable pain that they were served was so undeserved. But this is our traditional heritage, like a voyage each one in our culture must undertake. All for adulthood's sake. Becoming a "madoda", a Xhosa male adult, decreed by revered "ancestors", must be done during a ceremony at the appointed time. But this is no coming of age bliss. They are considered our lifelong investors. Passing on traditions from generation to generation.

The beginning of a new life was going to greet us at home with welcoming arms. The boys who had evolved into adults were going to be celebrated. But the expected praises that should have adorned us were abruptly muted. The initiation had not gone as planned.

A quick-buck scam turned into a deadly affair as circumcisions were done without proper care. Police officers and medical rescue teams came onto the scene – a picture seen more often now. Here amongst the South African bushes, surrounded by brush, trees and cactus, the Initiation Schools springing up overnight were now illegal practices.

The other boys were also wrapped in blankets. But they were not going home. They were already home.