Complete transformation in the bush has mother ‘emotional and proud’

By Sarah Dirsuwei

DECEMBER was a month to remember for 19-year-old Sibusiso Klaas of Uitenhage when he celebrated his umgidi with family and friends.

Sibusiso entered the bush at the end of November, together with 31 other boys from the Bay.

He says: "I was nervous and excited at the same time. The process was quite painful and three weeks felt like ages to be away from home. I am so happy, because I have wanted to become a man for a long time, and now I feel free and proud.”

Sibusiso’s parents, Nonkoliseko and Mdange Klaas, hosted his umgidi at their family home in KwaNobuhle on December 21 last year. Family members travelled from as far as Cape Town to attend, and 60 people enjoyed the celebrations. A cow was slaughtered and cooked in pots and on the braai and Nonkoliseko spent three days brewing umqombothi, a traditional African beer, for the occasion.

Nonkoliseko says: "I was so emotional and proud when I saw my son at his umgidi, even though I could not see his face until the next day. He was covered with a white blanket and none of the older ladies were allowed to see him. I am so relieved he survived the bush and he truly has changed completely from a boy to a man.”

Men and women gave Sibusiso important advice and rules on how to live as a good man, and he is enthusiastic about putting it into practice. Sibusiso is a singer in a local Kwaito band, Amabhunjwa, and dreams of a career in music.

Following Xhosa tradition, a young man is not allowed to use any of his boyhood things once he becomes a man, and family, friends and neighbours showered Sibusiso with gifts including new bedroom furniture, linen and clothes.

Sibusiso concludes: "My umgidi was absolutely wonderful. I have never had such a treat in my life!”