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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The politics of culture and the transient culture of 'bojale': Bakgatla-Baga-Kgafela women's initiation in Botswana
Author:Setlhabi, Keletso Gaone
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies (ISSN 1465-3893)
Geographic term:Botswana
Subjects:girls' initiation
cultural change
Abstract:To understand the politics of initiation ceremonies, this article discusses 'bojale', a traditional rite of passage among the Bakgatla-baga-Kgafela people of Botswana, through which a girl enters 'bosadi' (womanhood). The author focuses on her experiences as an initiate and participant observer in the 2009 ceremony. 'Bojale' has changed from a puberty rite limited to unmarried girls nearing first menarche into an initiation rite for females of any age and status, whether married or unmarried, with children or without. Despite 'bojale''s overt purpose of preparing initiates for womanhood, as echoed in 'bojale' songs, the author argues that its recent revival among the Bakgatla-baga-Kgafela follows a pattern indicative of 'transient culture' determined by the needs of the paramount chief. The women who have experienced initiation together join a regiment, a social organization that becomes the chief's practical and symbolic socio-political base. Both revival and abandonment are triggered by royal-related factors and events, in a pattern of repetitive transiency. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]