From maidens to Women

SeSotho ritual of women initiations

Each year young maidens initiates are chosen to take cultural practice of Lebollo, a BaSotho ritual that see girls go through the rite to become a woman in their community. The chosen from the villages surrounding the village of Tshirela which is situated deep within the Drakensberg mountains of the Free State of South Africa. The village is a mere 3km from Lesotho boarder is where the young maidens are taught the SeSotho way of life and culture, the chosen young maidens are taken into the country away from any urbanization.

During the time the young are away from their families, they are taught how be better to their communities, including the way a woman should behave with their husbands in marital life.

The basuwe, the traditional instructors teach the maidens over a period of a few months the way they have to behave, here in the Free State that time is from between the months of October to January, a time of warmth and water, in the area.

At the end of the initiation the women are given a home coming ceremony where they celebrate their overcoming the trials of the bush and learning the correct way to interact as women in their communities. The whole village gathers for the celebration of the Rite and culture, where the women are given their blanket that represents coming of age.

The young women, sing and dance when coming in to the village Baya Tebuka, it’s called, part of the instruction they received while with the basuwe’s, as they enter the final ceremony location the Bantse Ba Potoloha, where the young women line up for the final cermoney of the blanket,  Ba Apara Masolanka Ba fotse line, where each is given a blanket from their family representative and the basuwe, … then the women line up to be separated from their friends of the past months to receiving the matt, that also represents womanhood.

The women and families then celebrate with a great meal.

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