We are not who we claim to be anymore.
Yes, colonialism came and did away with anything that was originally and authentically us. It did this with precision, and to this day, black people are in denial about the fact that the Africans they claim to be today, died a long time ago. With the arrival of colonialism, the African died.
I know others will speak of evolution, but evolution or not, we are no longer amaXhosa, we might still speak the language, but that will soon give out its last breath. Our rituals and customs diluted with Christianity and western customs resulted in the removing of significance of such customs and rituals. Which really begs the question; are these rituals and customs still necessary today?
E.g., we have fathers who have been through the proper process of what the amaXhosa recognise as the rite of passage to manhood, ukweluka.
Our rituals and customs diluted with Christianity and western customs resulted in the removing of significance of such customs and rituals.
This process consists of three parts, before you go to the bush, at the bush and after you have left the bush. Each part plays an integral role in one becoming a man. The journey might seem solitary but when done the right way, you really have the entire community on that journey with you. Furthermore, as we (the amaXhosa we claim to be) are a community based society and not individualistic, each step is communicating a message with the community at large.
These same fathers, knowing this very well, discover that their love for a foreign God far outweighs their love for their people’s ways, so in an effort to appease their people and this foreign God they form an unwarranted bridge in the last part of the process between our ways and their church’s ways. Where there should have been umqombothi, there is now cool drinks, tea and biscuits, words of wisdom from respected members of the community regarding being a Xhosa man turn to prayers. In essence, what should have been umgidi wokwenene turns into an English tea party. Now you have a son who has been through an incomplete process, leaving him somewhat illegitimate (in terms of Xhosa laws) to those who practise this custom. However, because we are a forgiving people we recognize that this is not his fault, it is that of his father’s, and so we accommodate him, but at the cost of our ways.
This, evidently, is what and who we have become now, accommodators. We twist and turn to appease everyone else but us, and this has resulted in the death of the amaXhosa. We are amaXhosa only in language, and when that dies, it will formalize our death as a people.
Ntsika Scott (@iGrootman) is a Nelson Mandela Bay based photographer/ all-round creative and DIY guy.