n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - The limits to tolerance : an examination of the traditional rite of passage of the Xhosa tribe in South Africa

Volume 28, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



Ideologies are inextricably linked to thoughts and behaviours. They shape the beliefs and/or the assumptions people have on specific issues. Some ideologies may become so imperative as to be destructive, blinding individuals or groups to behaviours that cause damage and unnecessary suffering. This paper analyses the traditional rite of passage of the Xhosa tribe in South Africa, its evolution into a money-making venture and the ongoing, coercive threat it poses to young Xhosa males. A rite originally intended to socialise and define individuals as adults has devolved into one that victimises and causes unnecessary suffering. Rooted in a human rights ideology, the paper argues that the limits to tolerance based on a respect for tribal customs must be clear, particularly in cases of unnecessary suffering where fundamental human rights are violated.

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