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Vosho dance moves at initiation graduation raises ire of traditional leaders

Eastern Cape traditional leaders have taken issue with a group of young men “disgracefully” performing the popular dance known as ivosho —  which involves squatting and kicking at the same time — while leading a young initiation graduate home.  

A video of the dance, which traditional leaders have called “insulting”, is doing the rounds on social media.

The initiation song ritual Somagwaza is supposed to be a dignified and sacred affair. Leaders now want the young men involved to account for their actions.  

Their behaviour has even been slammed by parliamentary chief whip  Pemmy Majodina on her WhatsApp status. She called the incident ''amaphara” (criminal).    

Senior AmaXhosa  royal family member Nkosi Xhanti Sigcawu, who alerted SowetanLIVE's sister publication DispatchLIVE to the video, said: ''This is so disgraceful. Those [young men] must be brought to book as they are totally out of order. They are a disgrace.

“This is an insult and an attack on the national pride of AmaXhosa and all the nations practising the custom and performing Somagwaza.

Do they understand the meaning of Somagwaza? In an effort to protect the integrity of our custom, members of the public must please help us track them down.”

Co-operative governance and traditional affairs MEC Xolile Nqatha, an avid supporter of  initiation rites, was dismayed by the young men’s behaviour.

''It a represents serious threat to the future of isiko lolwaluko (initiation traditions) and the value system that is supposed to be inculcated.

“That is why one of the issues we must consider is to develop a syllabus that outlines critical things that must be taught for manhood,'' Nqatha said.

Nonkonyana said Somagwaza could be likened to a national anthem, or to De Brevitate Vitae (On the Shortness of Life), a Latin song often played at university graduation ceremonies.

''These are sung with dignity and pride and would not be ridiculed like this and reduced to something like the streetwise jive of vosho.

“It is shameful that these young men are doing it. It is quite clear to us that there are constant attacks on our custom of initiation of boys into manhood.

“Clearly there are undeclared wars to discredit our customs and put them into disrepute. We condemn this in the  strongest possible terms.”

AmaRharhabe royal spokesperson Prince Zolile Burns-Ncamashe said: “This is a reflection of a custom under siege.”

Aggressive advocacy programmes to protect the integrity of traditional rites should be considered, he added.

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