White boy undergoes Xhosa initiation

A white teenage boy is undergoing the traditional Xhosa rite of passage into manhood after following his best friend into the bush, and his parents and traditional leaders have given him their blessing, the Dispatch online reported yesterday.

A white teenage boy is undergoing the traditional Xhosa rite of passage into manhood after following his best friend into the bush, and his parents and traditional leaders have given him their blessing, the Dispatch online reported yesterday.

Not wanting to remain a boy while his friend became a man, Stanley Ahlschlager joined his mate of five years, Thandolwethu Nodwezana, at a camp just outside Berlin.

"I was not afraid, I knew exactly what I was getting myself into," Ahlschlager, 16, said.

The soft-spoken teenager said he had always wanted to go through the amaXhosa initiation ritual of ulwaluko. "I once visited my other friend at an initiation school and I told myself that I would also do it."

Outside the hut he is sharing with Nodwezana, Ahlschlager said his father, Stanley, eventually gave his approval.

"It was only my mom who was not comfortable with the idea that I would sleep in the bush on the floor, but my dad persuaded her and she agreed."

Wrapped in a blanket, Ahlschlager's body was covered in white clay from head to toe. Standing next to him, Nodwezana said he could not believe it when Ahlschlager asked to go to the initiation school with him. "I thought he was joking until the day we came here," he said.

Ahlschlager's father admitted he was shocked by his son's request.

"Although I know he has Xhosa-speaking friends, I never thought he would want to go to the initiation school with them," Ahlschlager senior said. - Sapa

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