Registration for both the female bojale and the male bogwera candidates is ongoing in different wards in Mochudi for the initiation ceremonies to be held this winter season in Kgatleng District.
These two practices were an integral part of Tswana culture in pre-colonial times as they served vital social responsibilities.
Bojale is a cultural practice for boys who have reached puberty. The boys are taken into the forest and taught certain responsibilities that will see them transform from childhood to manhood.
Bojale, on the other hand, is the initiation of girls which will get them through the passage of childhood to womanhood.
After these young girls and boys have graduated from childhood they are given a regiment name and bestowed with rights and responsibilities of elders.
Kgosi Mothibe Linchwe, the acting Bakgatla chief, said preparations are underway for the age old Bakgatla tribe culture of initiation ceremonies, which were temporarily put on hold but later re-activated by the recently inaugurated Paramount chief of Bakgatla, Kgosi Kgafela Kgafela.
“The process is voluntary and there is no forcing part at all,” Mothibe explained.
He said that it is upon the Bakgatla tribe to take pride in their culture and come forward in large numbers, saying that the paramount chief, Kgosi Kgafela Kgafela, had given an announcement and therefore the tribe is expected to be ready.
Furthermore, the chief said that negotiations are under way with the government and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks to acquire permission to hunt and kill some wild animals as is the custom during the initiation process. Some of the animals to be hunted include the Kudu, Impala, Wildebeest, Duiker and the Steenbok.
On why resurrect the tradition, Kgosi Mothibe was quick to elucidate.
“It is not resurrecting a dead tradition; our culture never died. We are continuing where our fathers left off.”
He said the reason for maintaining the tradition is to have people taught about their rich culture, as through initiation ceremonies they learn songs that have messages and also get together to know each other, saying that the regiments will then be given a name and develop as a team, which helps in realizing national unity.
The chief explained that “culture will always remain culture and we people are the custodians of our culture. We don’t have to go with the modern world and ignore what is our culture; people can go with the modern world but should always uphold their culture.”
As culture is dynamic, this old age tradition is no exception as it has gone through some revamping.
The circumcision will be done using modern techniques and facilities as the chief acknowledged. He said the Deborah Retief Memorial Hospital (DRM) has been offered a request to help with circumcision facilities so as to comply with safe circumcision medical standards.
The DRM Public Relations Officer, Mr. Thuto Ditibane, confirmed that indeed they had received a request from the Bakgatla Tribal Administration to assist with medical facilities for circumcision.
“Sponsorship for the initiation ceremonies comes from the morafe and anyone willing to assist with any kind of help, be it food or anything, is welcome,” the chief said.
Although the winter season is a convenient time for other people and for the quick recovery of circumcision wounds, for Billy Masoko, a 22-year-old University of Botswana student, time does not favour him.
“I really wanted to go but because of school commitments I cannot make it this season. But for sure next year I will be going,” Masoko said.
He added that he wanted to go through the initiation for tribal pride.
The female regiment will be leaving on the 30th of May while the male regiment leaves on the 27th of June.