IT was a long, agonising wait, but yesterday Karen Jack finally got to see her son, Thembaloxolo, who left home a boy three weeks ago and returned a man.
Themba, 19, the only son of former anti-apartheid activist and prominent businessman Mkhuseli “Khusta” Jack, returned from the bush on Wednesday, after undergoing the traditional Xhosa initiation process. His cousin, Vuyolwethu, also 19, was with him.
Friends and family from around South Africa gathered at the Jacks’ Walmer home for the umgidi yesterday to welcome Themba home.
His grandmother, Joan Evans, was delighted her grandson was back home.
“This is a beautiful day for us as the family and we are very grateful to all the people who have come here to show love and support to our family,” she said.
Guests, many of whom wore traditional Xhosa clothing in shades of orange, beige and lime, arrived in fancy cars. Khusta, wearing beige shorts and a lime shirt, welcomed them as women ululated and sang traditional Xhosa songs. Others clapped along.
Themba, who had seen his father the previous day, was happy to see his mother – dressed in a lime umbhaco (traditional outfit).
His younger sister and New Afroteens bandmate, Cayla- Rose, wore a red umbhaco.
“I have not seen my mother for three weeks but my father visited me a lot. My [New Afroteens] fans can expect a new look and maybe a new attitude,” he said.
Themba’s friend, Christi Nortier, also dressed up for the occasion in a beige umbhaco. “I like the fact that the whole community came together to support one another. I am truly having a good time,” she said. Themba’s fellow band members joined in the festivities, among them band publicist Thanduxolo Jindela.
“Even though we turned down a couple of gigs because people wanted the full band, we are happy to say that their first CD, Siyazazisa, has sold out and it might be on gold – we are just waiting for the results from EMI,” he said.
“We have a huge surprise for our fans next year.”
Others who attended included executives, clerics, media personalities and former political activists like Umhlobo Wenene’s Putco Mafani, human rights activist and senior lecturer Janet Cherry, Anglican Bishop Bethlehem Nopece and former Springbok manager and SABC Eastern Cape boss Zola Yeye.
Mafani was impressed by those wearing traditional outfits. “These days youngsters no longer care about their roots. It is also good that this umgidi has brought people of different races together,” he said.
Ben Ngcamashe, from the king’s palace at Mngqesha, said he was pleased with the way in which the Jacks followed tradition, despite the many challenges.
“Xhosa tradition is very important and I am happy that Themba and his cousin came back alive. These days a lot of things are happening – some don’t come back from the bush. I hope that some people will also learn a lot from this. This is a very beautiful umgidi,” he said.