Byline: Nonjabuliso Nhlambo

13 November 2023

The Zikhali family celebrated their granddaughter, Nokulunga Angel Nkosi, nicknamed Mabhebezas Umhlonyane (coming of age), at their homestead in Leslie on Saturday, 11 November 2023.

Umhlonyane is a traditional ceremony done by the Zulu tribe for girls who reach the womanhood stage (depending on what age they reach it).

The head (normally the father) of the family slaughters a goat for this ceremony.

The week before the ceremony, the girl is kept in a separate room away from other people, where she will stay inside and come out on the day of the ceremony.

By the time she is in that room, the elder women visit the girl to give advice and guidance on how to behave as a teenager or Zulu maiden.

On the day of the ceremony, the young girls sing traditional songs that are relevant to the ceremony.

Nokulunga’s grandmother described her as a bookworm as she has no friends, a very calm child who respects elders and loves attending the maiden’s events.

“As a family, we support her so much that she stays pure as a maiden.

A reserved child grows well, so we are very proud of her.

We are looking forward to her uMemulo at the age of 21,” said her aunt, Vicky Zikhali.

Gogo Tshabalala from Bethal, who is the elderly person responsible for checking the maidens, described Nokulunga as someone who is always smiling and has grown into a woman attending maidens.

“I am very confident that she will reach the uMemulo stage and head forward,” said Gogo Tshabalala.

17-year-old Nokulunga, who is currently in grade 11, said no words can describe her joyfulness.

She is now looking forward to uMemulo and the wearing of Umhlwehlwe, which is hung on the maiden’s shoulders during the ceremony, and it is believed it changes color if the maiden is no longer pure.

“I want to urge girls to continue taking care of themselves; there is nothing as satisfying as being checked to see if you are still pure,” Said Nokubonga.

From left; Mrs Sthole Majola,Ms Vicky Zikhali,Nokubonga Nkosi, Mrs Zikhali and Gog Tshabalala