Umgidi: My Nephew’s Initiation Celebration


So, last weekend my 18-year-old nephew came back from the bush.  We were so excited for his return, more especially his grandmother – can you believe she wanted to slaughter 2 cows, 1 pig, and 6 sheep?  Tjoe!  Imagine that much meat, but luckily for all of us, she ended up cutting it down.  On my mom’s defense, it’s important that there’s a lot of meat at an initiation celebration and a lot of booze but one must be careful not to overdo it because people will come back for days after the celebration until all the meat and umqombothi is finished.


Anyways, everything happened according to plan.  The family from Alice (our original hometown) came a day and some two days early, which was great and highly appreciated.   This doting aunt prepared 60 litres of ginger beer, 8kg of Chakalaka and another 8kg of Beetroot & Orange Relish.  My mom made Umqombothi (the traditional beer), let’s just say it was lit!


Before I get carried away, let me tell you about the initiation ceremony.  The boy was taken to the bush over three weeks ago just after he finished writing his exams.  He was very eager and ready to go through the whole process of becoming a man.  We were told he took everything in his stride and he was very brave – now that’s bush talk.


The second one from the left – the tall one.


My uncles were managing the manly side of things, they had a big fire next to ubuhlanti  (the kraal) and I think that’s where the real party took place.  Come to think of it, cases of beer, bottles of whiskey and umqombothi were sent out there on several occasions and it showed if you know what I mean hahaha.


My aunts and some ladies from the neighborhood were there to help out with the peeling, cooking, dishing up and washing.  I was so busy I didn’t get a chance to take pictures of the food, but we received great complements.  The ginger beer was finished.  People went for seconds and thirds.  The chakalaka was finished.  My family reserved some of the Beetroot & Orange Relish for later enjoyment.


My nephew is so happy, he received quite a number of gifts.  At the end of the day, that’s what the celebration is all about.  It’s about setting up the new man into his new life and new ways.  Bear in mind, he gives away all the old clothes he used to wear when he was a boy.  So the gifts from the people come in very handy.  Gifts include blankets, socks, vests, basically new clothes, money, gift cards, and more money.


Have you had an initiation celebration recently or attended one?  We’d like to hear about it.


From left to right: Cousin, Ikrwala (My nephew), My mom, My sister (mother to ikrwala), Cousin



About Author


Thuli Gogela is a Food Technologist with 8 years of experience developing products in food manufacturing. She is dedicated to discovering wholesome traditional dishes and recipes with a distinctive taste from different parts of the African continent. Thuli is well known for her food blog, Mzansi Style Cuisine which was established in 2010. She saw a gap in the traditional food market that people were hungry for. From there, it didn’t take long to build her brand. In 2013, she started writing a recipe column for the Cape Times for and has collaborated with some of the biggest brands in South Africa namely, Knorr, Nedeburg Wines, First Choice and Spekko rice. Not only does Thuli feature traditional African dishes, she’s also open to developing recipes, food consultations and brand collaborations.

Post a Comment