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More South African Young Men Continue to Die in Coming-of-Age Initiation Ceremonies

The death toll has already risen to 21 this initiation season alone.

Twenty-one male initiates have already died this initiation season in South Africa, News24 reports. There are concerns that the death toll will continue to rise. While deaths have occurred across the country, the highest number of deaths has been in the Eastern Cape, home of the Xhosa people among whom the initiation ceremonies are most commonly, although not exclusively, practised.


The Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) minister Zweli Mkhize announced the new death toll statistics recently. Asked about what his organization and the government plan to do to curb these deaths, Mkhize responded by saying:

"We have issued guidelines which amongst others directs that initiates must be given drinking water and we are aware that this is not happening yet. The local monitoring committees should intensify their efforts to monitor their oversight and, where instances of criminality are detected, together with the South African Police Services, they must act and bring all those responsible to book."

These coming-of-age initiation ceremonies are heralded as being necessary in a young man's life and his passage to manhood. The ceremony itself, called ulwaluko in Xhosa, involves a journey to an isolated area or a mountain and primarily focus on the circumcision of boys which is their entry into manhood. The young men are then are then taught about manhood and masculinity by elder males in what is supposed to instill good moral and social values. The late Nelson Mandela, having been Xhosa, speaks about this sacred rite of passage in his book Long Walk to Freedom.

However, several challenges have plagued the ceremonies over the years and resulted in the unfortunate and often preventable deaths of the lives of many young men. These challenges range from illegitimate initiation schools or centers, hygiene issues and a lack of basic medical knowledge during the performing of the circumcisions as well as looking after the health and well-being of the initiates thereafter.

Many South Africans have accused Xhosa men especially of being silent when it absolutely matters most. This follows the nationwide outrage that was sparked by the 2017 film Inxeba: The Wound which sheds light on ulwaluko and centers a queer narrative. Many Xhosa men and people in general, fought for the film to be banned (which it was temporarily) as they felt it was a perverted disclosure of a sacred and private cultural ceremony.



Some of the initiates died from dehydration after not being given water for days. Others died from sepsis, either from the knife used in the circumcision not having been sterile or the onset of infection following the circumcision. One initiate was burnt alive while asleep and another committed suicide by hanging. In an attempt to help regulate initiation practices in the country, the government's National Assembly adopted the Customary Initiation Bill which take effect in 2019.

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Interview: Wavy The Creator Is Ready to See You Now

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A trip canceled, plans interrupted, projects stalled. It is six months now since Wavy the Creator has had to make a stop at an undisclosed location to go into quarantine and get away from the eye of the pandemic.

The professional recording artist, photographer, writer, fashion artist, designer, and evolving creative has been spending all of this time in a house occupied by other creatives. This situation is ideal. At least for an artist like Wavy who is always in a rapid motion of creating and bringing interesting things to life. The energy around the house is robust enough to tap from and infuse into any of her numerous creative outlets. Sometimes, they also inspire trips into new creative territories. Most recently, for Wavy, are self-taught lessons on a bass guitar.

Wavy's days in this house are not without a pattern, of course. But some of the rituals and personal rules she drew up for herself, like many of us did for internal direction, at the beginning of the pandemic have been rewritten, adjusted, and sometimes ditched altogether. Some days start early and end late. Some find her at her sewing machine fixing up thrift clothes to fit her taste, a skill she picked up to earn extra cash while in college, others find her hard at work in the studio, writing or recording music.

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(Youtube)

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Follow our SONGS YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS WEEK playlist on Spotify here, Apple Music here and YouTube Music here

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News Brief

Michael Kiwanuka Wins Highly Coveted 2020 Mercury Prize

The British-Ugandan artist proves that staying true to yourself will get you further than you can imagine.

British-Ugandan musician Michael Kiwanuka has gone on to win the 2020 Mercury Prize at this year's virtual awards ceremony.

The win was assigned to Kiwanuka's 2019 album KIWANUKA, produced by Danger Mouse and Inflo. KIWANUKA, Michael's third full-length so far, seems to be the artists' most personal one yet.

In his own words, Kiwanuka told New Statesman, "I thought, what better way to say that you're comfortable with who you are than by using just your name? KIWANUKA goes against fame, it goes against success. It's not in the pocket, it's not a smooth rock'n'roll name that's up in lights. It can be clumsy, if you haven't seen it before."

Well, we are certainly grateful for the singer's personal evolution as it has landed him top honors in the industry, as well as, amongst his die hard fans.

The artist said of his win, "I don't even know what to say - I'm speechless. This is amazing...I don't even have any words. This is ridiculous, it's crazy! I'm so happy. Third time's a charm. It's blown my mind. I'm over the moon, I'm so excited - this is for art, for music, for albums. This is the only thing I've ever wanted to do so to win a Mercury is a dream come true. I'm so happy. Music and art means so much to me and this is an award that celebrates that so I'm over the moon."

Watch Michael Kiwanuka's performance of "You Ain't The Problem" off of his Mercury Prize winning album "KIWANUKA" here.

Mercury Prize 2020 Winner | Michael Kiwanuka - You Ain't The Problem (Later... With Jools Holland) www.youtube.com

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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa Supports Removal of Apartheid Statues

This past Heritage Day, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that monuments 'glorifying' the country's 'divisive past' should be repositioned and relocated.