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Backlash for ‘The Wound’ Intensifies As AmaXhosa King Disapproves of the Film

AmaXhosa king Mpendulo Zwelonke is the latest to express disapproval for the movie.

The Wound, a South African movie by the director William Trengrove which stars singer, author and actor Nakhane Touré has been getting a lot of attention—not all of it positive.


The movie has received good reviews from the likes of the New York Times and won the awards for Best Film and Best Actor at Cinema Jove, the Valencia International Film Festival in July.

Touré and Trengrove also scooped Best Actor and Best Director awards at the Durban International Film Awards in the same month.

But since its trailer was released earlier this year, the movie's received criticism from a large number of AmaXhosa (Xhosa people). A lot of the outrage comes out in the comments section of Toure’s Facebook posts.

“I had prepared myself for a backlash of some sort, but I didn’t know it would be quite this homophobic,” Touré told the Mail & Guardian in March.“I knew it would be cultural and that people would be mad about that, but not this homophobic. I mean, people are swearing at my mom. I’m like 'what did she do?' But I kind of understand why people are mad; why they’re so defensive of their culture. It is, after all, their culture. But it is also my culture.”

The reason for the backlash is some Xhosa men (and some women) feel the movie violates the sacredness of their custom of the initiation into manhood of Xhosa boys. It also doesn’t help that Trengrove is a white man telling a black story. “It is not okay to subjectively delve into traditions and practices you are not a part of under the guise of sparking debate and engagement,” wrote Lwando Xaso and Zukiswa Pikoli in an Op-Ed published on the news website IOL  in March.

There's a petition by some Xhosa students from the University of Witwatersrand that calls for the movie to be boycotted. The second paragraph of the petition reads: “The ritual that this movie is centered around is a secret and sacred thing. What happens in the mountains of kwaXhosa stays there, it is not for public consumption and this ritual has been practiced for as long as time itself. In what we have witnessed on the trailer, the movie is also promoting a false narrative about the Xhosa ritual.”

The petition currently has close to 2,000 signatures and comments agreeing that the movie crossed the line and must be banned. AmaXhosa king Mpendulo Zwelonke is the latest to express disapproval for the movie. He was quoted by TimesLIVE condemning the movie for exposing the custom, which must remain a secret. "But the movie made it public,” he said, “even the very sensitive and secret things. It is insulting to the tradition because it stripped the tradition of its secrecy and sacredness. This will provoke the wrath of ancestors. Attacking and insulting this custom is an attack to our ancestors,” he said.

On the 26th of August, there will be a march in Cape Town protesting the movie under the hashtag #InxebaMustFall. You can view the Facebook page here.

The Wound, which was inspired by Thando Mgqolozananovel's novel, A Man Who’s Not A Man, explores sexuality and challenges the narrow depictions of African masculinity.

You can watch the trailer for The Wound below.

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Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

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