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South African School Choir Under Investigation Following Their 'Naked' Performance

The traditional Xhosa performance by a school girl choir caused an uproar in South Africa.

This year, the dance competition held at the Walter Sisulu University's Zamukulungisa Campus played the stage for a controversial performance which revived the rift between traditionalists and those worried about the sexual objectification of young girls.

In the town of Mthatha—the heart of Xhosa culture, the intentions of a school girl choir to honor their culture ended up causing an uproar. The competition's theme was "isiko inkciyo," referring to the Xhosa traditional practice of young girls keeping their virginity until marriage. In their routine, the choir dropped their umbhacos, traditional Xhosa skirts, and continued their singing and choreographed performance in inkciyos, small loin cloths.


The performance only raised tension between traditionalists' cultural values, and those with view more in line with contemporary ideas of sexuality. On one hand, this school choir master, Asive Yibana's view of their controversial performance was that it was an homage to, and incorporation of the rituals and values of Xhosa tradition. On the other, South African heads of education believe the performance was "undignified" and "objectifying."

As reported by BBC, Yibana defended the performance in a statement saying, "We are proud of our Xhosa tradition. We are proud of inkciyo. We are proud of Xhosa women and girls."

Inkciyo is part of the Xhosa ritual where female community elders perform routine hymen inspections on girls. In a time where the Inkciyo Movement has been revived in South Africa, aimed to "restore the decaying moral fibre within the youth," neither side can agree on where the line is drawn between objectification and honoring tradition.

As reported by TimesLive, in her statement, South Africa's minister of education, Angie Motshekga said, "There is absolutely nothing wrong with being proud of your culture and heritage‚ but there was absolutely no need for these children to perform completely naked. That indignity goes against the values of our cultures."

The trouble is that to Yibana, their actions matched the values of the culture. Events similar to what happened at the choir competition continue to challenge the morality of old traditions, and question the perception from which African traditions were born.

In reports from 2016, South Africa averaged a reporting of 109.1 sexual assaults each day. Have some traditions, like Inkciyo, contributed to today's prevalent predation of young African women? Is it justifiable that some traditions thought by its supporters to protect young girls, and ensure their purification, also impose on the rights and sexual freedoms of women at the same time?

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Photo by KOLA SULAIMON/AFP via Getty Image

#EndSARS: 1 Year Later And It's Business As Usual For The Nigerian Government

Thousands filled the streets of Nigeria to remember those slain in The #LekkiTollGateMassacre...while the government insists it didn't happen.

This week marks 1 year since Nigerians began protests against police brutality and demanded an end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). The #EndSARS protests took the world by storm as we witnessed Nigerian forces abuse, harass and murder those fighting for a free nation. Reports of illegal detention, profiling, extortion, and extrajudicial killings followed the special task force's existence, forcing the government to demolish the unit on October 11th, 2020. However, protestors remained angered and desperate to be heard. It wasn't until October 20th, when soldiers opened fire on demonstrators at Lekki tollgate in the country's capital, Lagos, that the protests came to a fatal end. More than 56 deaths from across the country were reported, while hundreds more were traumatized as the Nigerian government continued to rule by force. The incident sparked global outrage as the Nigerian army refused to acknowledge or admit to firing shots at unarmed protesters in the dead of night.

It's a year later, and nothing has changed.

Young Nigerians claim to still face unnecessary and violent interactions with the police and none of the demands towards systemic changes have been met. Fisayo Soyombo the founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, told Al Jazeera, "Yes, there has not been any reform. Police brutality exists till today," while maintaining that his organization has reported "scores" of cases of police brutality over this past year.

During October 2020's protests, Nigerian authorities turned a blind eye and insisted that the youth-led movement was anti-government and intended to overthrow the administration of current President Muhammadu Buhari. During a press conference on Wednesday, in an attempt to discredit the protests, Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed hailed the Nigerian army and police forces for the role they played in the #EndSARS protests, going as far as to say that the Lekki Toll Massacre was a "phantom massacre with no bodies." These brazen claims came while protesters continued to gather in several major cities across the country. The minister even went on to shame CNN, Nigerian favorite DJ Switch as well as Amnesty International, for reporting deaths at Lekki. Mohammed pushed even further by saying, "The six soldiers and 37 policemen who died during the EndSARS protests are human beings with families, even though the human rights organizations and CNN simply ignored their deaths, choosing instead to trumpet a phantom massacre."

With the reports of abuse still coming out of the West African nation, an end to the struggle is not in sight. During Wednesday's protest, a journalist for the Daily Post was detained by Nigerian forces while covering the demonstrations.

According to the BBC, additional police units have been set up in the place of SARS, though some resurfacing SARS officers and allies claim to still be around.

Young Nigerians relied heavily on social media during the protests and returned this year to voice their opinions around the first anniversary of an experience that few will be lucky enough to forget.



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