Gendered naming and values inherent in the Xhosa amakrwala (graduate-initiates): implications for teaching a multicultural class

OUTPUT TYPE: Conference or seminar papers
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2012
TITLE AUTHOR(S): M.Cekiso, T.Meyiwa
KEYWORDS: INITIATION RITUALS, SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
DEPARTMENT: Inclusive Economic Development (IED)
Intranet: HSRC Library: shelf number 7696

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Abstract

Rites of passage play a central role in African socialization, demarking the different stages in an individual's development, as well as that person's relationship and role in the broader community. The major stage in African life is the transition from childhood to adulthood when they become fully institutionalized to the ethics of the group's culture. Rites of passage are for this reason critical in character building and identity formation (Shahadah) - a view equally propounded by Tajfel (1996), a social identity theorist. For Xhosa male graduate-initiates (amakrwala), names bestowed upon them during the process of ukwaluka are a prescript that signifies values held by the broader community. Drawing from an empirical study that sought to understand the conceptual underpinnings of the practice, this paper presents the perceptual voices of both the initiates and name givers. Using theories of social identity and masculinity, it asserts that the naming custom occurs in a context that, whilst one hand is endeared and seeks to build character, it stipulates a kind of masculinity and identity that is in line with what the broader community sanctions and values. Equally the paper seeks to examine implications that such socialisation could have in a multicultural and/or multilingual class - as such classes are in the rise at the research sites from which the data for this paper was drawn.