On Saturday Minnie Dlamini celebrated a ceremony called uMhlonyane, which is usually done when a girl reaches puberty, to teach and advise her about womanhood.
But a number of cultural experts have come forward and criticised Minnie for not following the correct procedures. They claim that a spear such as the one Minnie was seen carrying in social media pictures is used for uMemulo, to signify that a girl is still a virgin.
uMemulo is a ceremony performed for Zulu girls when their parents want to thank them and tell them that they are ready to get married.
Speaking on Ukhozi FM, cultural expert Velaphi Mkhize said only a virgin may carry the spear.
And on social media, some people have questioned why Minnie, at her age, had uMhlonyane rather than uMemulo.
Some readers said that uMhlonyane was performed only for girls aged from 12 to 16 years who had reached puberty. A goat is slaughtered and no spear should be fetched at her uncle’s house.
Minnie replied, saying
Imizi ayifani nange ndlela okwenziwa ngayo imikhuba namasiko akufani, kodwa bonke basuke bebheke esikweni elilodwa. Each family is unique as these rituals are passed down from each family’s forefathers, but they are gunning for a common goal of the ritual.
When my father, as the head of our Dlamini branch of the family, decided it was time for him and my mother to formally introduce me to the community as a woman, on top of what he knows, as passed down in practice to him by his late father, he appointed a spiritually gifted person to guide the process. All that was done was on the wisdom passed down to my father and under the advice and guidance of Lindiwe Luthuli (MaMpanza).
Last week was one of the most beautiful times I will ever get to experience as new friendships were forged and old ones reaffirmed, all under the spirit of family and Ubuntu bethu. When in hiding (emgonqweni) with izintombi zami (my girls) they were all sharing stories about their Mhlonyane ceremonies and where many of the practices of the ceremony were similar, none of the ceremonies were the same. Some girls had to look for umkhonto after their uncles hid it. In my case, according to my family practice, I had to go ko malume Mzwakhe (my maternal uncle) in Claremont, where I had to wait at the gate in song and dance for him to hand me the spear. The spear according to our ritual represents the ancestors from my mother’s side of the family.
I never knew about uMhlonyane, I only knew of uMemulo and with this process explained to me, according to our family practices, uMemulo takes place when ilobolo has been paid for in full and the spear is provided by the groom. It is thus that my parents, under the guidance of uMaMpanza, saw fit to perform and host this event for me as I needed to be introduced as a woman. This can happen at any age, even married women have found themselves having to perform this ritual, as required by family and ancestors permitting. This was confirmed by Head of African Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Professor Sihawu Ngubane, to my paternal Aunt Duduzile Dlamini. The uMhlonyane and uMemulo processes are the same, the only difference being the handover of the spear, one being from the maternal uncle and the other being handed over by the groom.
My parents and family elders were prepared to wait out the process of uMemulo until our ancestors conveyed that I am no longer a little girl and I need to be reported as a woman. Thus the decision to perform uMhlonyane took place.
Yes the price of fame comes with celebration and criticism, but when it starts to question my family cultural and ritual practices, I find it disrespectful of the media and those sectors of the public, out to impose their family practices on mine. Each woman’s journey is unique as well as each family’s rituals – but they are all gunning for a common goal, which is to appease the ancestors – we therefore need to stop insulting the process by trying to find wrong things that don’t exist!
My family did right by our ancestors, our forefathers and most importantly my family did right by me by following the correct procedures as accepted and expected by my ancestors.
My father and MaMpanza in guiding the process did not follow any rule book or notebook, as there was none left behind by our forefathers, but went according to wisdom and practical experience pertaining to our branch of the Dlamini clan.
As the headlines and debates rage on “How Minnie Got It Wrong!” where I and my family sit, we are in good standing with our ancestors and we got nothing wrong.
My ceremony will never be the same as another girl’s even if I had a sister the processes still would have minor differences. Everything is done for a reason unique to not only the family but the girl’s individual journey.
I as Minenhle Nomkhosi Ntulikazi wakaDlamini, performed no ceremony for myself, but one was decreed and performed for me by my parents and family. I will not allow any talk or people’s dictation of how it was supposed to be, according to your perceptions, take away one of my life’s most joyous occasions.
Source: Sunday World