making of a man
When winter makes its first hint of arrival at the cape, then Xhosa boys prepare themselves to become men. They prepare to become bakhwetha, initiates who undergo a series of trials in the wilderness of the eastern cape; south africa, or in Cape Town on vacant plots of land boarding the N2 highway, trials that culminate in circumcision. Come June and July, with winter at its coldest and wettest, as the bakhwetha gather in tents made of sacks, the stories start to appear in the newspapers, the stories that tell of boys who didn’t make it into manhood. We saw the stories last year, and will again this year. However, the option of staying uncircumcised is impractical if you live among Xhosa’s. In his book Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela noted that a Xhosa man who has not been circumcised is a paradox…’he is still viewed as a boy’.