n Indilinga African Journal of Indigenous Knowledge Systems - Xhosa male initiation and teaching of moral values : an exploration of the role of traditional guardians in teaching the initiates : IKS in other contexts




This article discusses the role of Xhosa male initiation practice in the teaching of moral values and the part played by the amakhankatha (traditional guardians) in the practice. Xhosa male initiation is regarded as a rite of passage since it has a historic role in building up the moral lives of boys as they graduate to manhood. Amakhankatha are identified both from literature and the research findings as major role players in the teaching of the initiates. A shift in the approach to teaching moral values and in the practice of initiation has resulted in the death of many initiates as well as the misbehaviour of the amakrwala (new men). The author suggests that initiation practices should be redefined in order to play a positive role in building the moral fibre of Xhosa society, as it was intended in the past. As part of the solution to the problem the author suggests an informal curriculum in order to empower the amakhankatha, who will in turn teach the initiates. This curriculum comprises topics such as HIV and AIDS, crime, women abuse and what it means to be a responsible man.


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