As noted in a previous post, four of the boys in our branch participated in "The Bush" practice. A sacred tradition of the Xhosa tribe where a young man is moved from boyhood to manhood through a series of ceremonies. One of which is circumcision.
On December 20, the boys came "out" of the bush. Some of the ceremonies attached to that are the burning of the huts that they resided in for three weeks. They wrap themselves in a "blanket of manhood" and they are washed from the white clay that has been smeared on their bodies and now use an orange clay to paint their faces with.
When they return home, the entire family, (and I mean entire…aunts, uncles, grannies, cousins, or anyone else who claims relationship) come to greet them. The boys are then placed in a room of their home where visitors are allowed to greet them. We were permitted to enter. First President was taken in by the "Ubuntu" or the Elder that has been supervising. We are not allowed to touch the boys. They hold a stick that we can take hold of and shake it with them, but they are still not "purified". We put some money on a plate and then we are allowed to give advice. Sister Thomas and I sang "How Firm A Foundation" and quoted D & C 4.
A huge celebration is held. Usually an animal is slaughtered. The greatest honor is to have a cow slaughtered, cooked and served. There is dancing and music and much alcohol.
These fellows had a bit too much to drink and just laid down and went to sleep.
I am pictured here with the Ubuntu who took me back to view Sonwabile.
Most of those attending paint their faces and wear traditional Xhosa clothing.
After the celebration and the washing the boys then wear a costume similar to the one below with their faces painted in orange clay. This is to let the Xhosa world know that they are now a man!