947 initiates all return home safely
ALL IN all 947 males concluded their initiation ritual last weekend at Mpepule and Jokong villages in Bolobedu, Limpopo.
The initiates, who included 65-year-old Edward Baloyi, were warmly welcomed back home with song and dance by excited community members.
A positive factor in this year's initiations is that there were no casualties.
Some of the initiates came from as far as KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
The Mpepule school, situated in the bush near the idyllic village, was officially closed last Friday to allow school-going initiates to return home and be ready for the reopening of schools on Monday.
For Baloyi "the past years have been very hard because deep down I did not feel like a grown man. I had not graduated into manhood".
"I'm very happy that I have finally made it into manhood," he said.
"From now on I can associate with real men. I will no longer be treated like a young man."
Self-proclaimed king of kwasa-kwasa dance Stephen Sefofa, 50, popularly known as Malo-a-Botsheba, was also among those who graduated from the Mpepule school.
"It was a gratifying experience to be part of the whole initiation ritual.
"I'm happy to have finally graduated into manhood," Sefofa said.
Local Mpepule chief Kgoshi Moloko Tshwale, who ran a successful initiation school for the second time, could not hide his excitement.
"The past four weeks have been hectic," he noted. "Running an initiation school is not an easy task but I am happy there were no casualties."
Tshwale was impressed by the fact that even grown men saw the need to go to the mountain school in order to gain passage into manhood.
He said he was doubly happy because his school had attracted initiates from other villages that had schools. He said he owed his success to the fact that he treated the initiates "like my own children".
Tshwale first ran an initiation school in 2009, two years after his inauguration as Mpepule chief.
His said his initial intake was 703 initiates. - firstname.lastname@example.org