A Test of Manhood: The Khweta Circumcision Ceremony of the Transkei

The Transkei is an ancient tribe of Southern Africa with many traditions, one of which is the boy-to-man initiation – The Khweta Circumcision.

Khweta Circumcision Ceremony of the Transkei

For the Transkei, the boy must go through the Khweta ceremony before being seen as a real man. If he does not, no girl with self-respect will want to marry him.

During the initiation ceremony, boys of different ages stay in a place called a circumcision lodge. They remain in seclusion for months under the orders and supervision of a master. During this time, they go through various severe tests that stretch their endurance limits.

These tests can get so unforgiving sometimes and eventually end the lives of some. However, in recent times, the tests are not as terrible as they used to be.

During the ceremony, the young men wear white sheepskin, which they say wards off evil spirits. Their bodies are painted white with sandstone. Then they engage in special dances moving like bulls, snorting, and moving their heads in the air.

Khweta Circumcision Ceremony of the Transkei

They dance vigorously, drumming their heels in the ground, flexing their muscles, and proudly showing off their dancing skills.

They perform this dance to neighbouring huts. But they do this masked, and the females keep their distance as no boy is allowed to come close before he has completed the ceremony.

The Khweta circumcision is usually done in the spring season. Once the ceremony is completed, all the materials and costumes used, including the hut they dwelt, are all burnt. They are then taken to the river for a cleansing bath and are flogged along the way – under no circumstance must they look back.

The white paint is washed off in the river. On returning, red clay is smeared on their body, which they must wear for three months before it can be washed off. After this, they are considered as men and are free to get married.

They now have with them the traditions of their people. They have become men and are ready to face the world.

What do you think of the Khweta Ceremony?






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