SARAH Mofokeng recalls her days as a maiden, when she led a group of girls and women who took part in a Sesotho ritual called lebollo at the weekend.
Mofokeng, 21, of Standerton, Mpumalanga, said taking part in the initiation ritual when she was 14 years old taught her to respect her elders and gave her a feeling for of married life.
"I was a changed person by the time I left the hut we lived in for two months. I knew how to address my elders and also learnt a lot about our customs and traditions," Mofokeng said.
More than 100 girls and women performed the kgabunya at Holmdene, near Standerton, as an acknowledgement of traditional Sesotho life.
Their bodies smeared in ochre that gave off a brownish glow, the group looked resplendent in their traditional outfits, skirts made of cowhide.
Trinkets such as small mirrors, beads and sometimes balloons adorning the skirts glistened in the afternoon sun. Mohlehlo (animal fat) hung around their necks.
This after spending about two months away from their families with two basowe as part of their grooming.
Mofokeng said girls as young as 14 and older women could take part in the ritual. Some came from as far as KwaZulu-Natal.
Basowe teaches them traditional songs and dances, sewing, cooking, how to behave in relationships and their culture and customs.
Mofokeng said the families of the initiates celebrate the occasion of the girls leaving the hut by slaughtering sheep and presenting the initiates with gifts such as money, furniture and clothes.