Driftsands Initiation Site: A Beacon of Hope
The Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, in partnership with the Department of Health and Cape Nature, brought joy and hope to a disadvantaged community of Blue Downs and Mfuleni when they launched the new Driftsands Initiation Site on Friday, 8 June 2012.
The Driftsands Initiation Site is the result of an initiative taken in 2003 by the Western Cape Departments of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Health and conservation organisation Cape Nature. The aim was to engage groups such as the conservation organisations, relevant government departments and surrounding communities to ensure that the significant rite of passage - the male initiation - which illustrates the transition from boyhood (ubukhwenkwe) to manhood (ubudoda), takes place within a secure and safe environment.
The Western Cape Government, in collaboration with community-based initiation structures, is involved in training traditional surgeons (iingcibi) and carers (amakhankatha) in first aid and environmental and fire management to ensure that the highest level of care is received by initiates.
In a private traditional ceremony attended by elderly community members where only men were allowed, the Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Dr Ivan Meyer, cut the red ribbon at the site that officially unveiled this new site.
In his address to about 70 community members at the Driftsands Environmental Centre in Blue Downs, Minister Meyer said that the aim of this initiative was to involve groups and organisations to ensure that the site remained a clean, safe and pristine environment for the benefit of all. "The initiation practice is deep rooted in our communities, not only in the rural areas of the province, but more so in the Metro region," he said.
Traditional dance performances and songs prevailed during the event, where elderly women and men showed their jubilation. "The department is confident that this site will provide access to communities for sustainable activities and also to contribute to responsible citizens that we all can be proud of."
"This partnership between the Western Cape Government and this community has today again attested that rewarding joint ventures can be built to ensure safe and hygienic practices and also preserve nature conservation," Minister Meyer said.
More information on Initiation Protocol and Guidelines.