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Matwasana initiation

Guy Stubbs

I was privileged to have been invited by Paul Shilubane from the University of the North to a Matwasana initiation ceremony in Bushbuck Ridge. Twasa means to learn (to be a traditional healer). Each Mtwasa undergoes a 5 year apprenticeship/training period where they are guided by their ancestral spirit and tutors at the training school. What interested me was to see the combined Sotho & Nguni cultural ancestry that makes up the Shangaan culture. Each Matwasa (trainee) inherits an ancestral spirit who he/she communicates to and gets guidance from. These ancestors are quite similar to Christian Saints in that they were revered people while still living. In these photographs you can see which of the Matwasana have Nguni ancestors (more colourful & round drums) and which have Sotho ancestors (less colourful & tall cylindrical drums).


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