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18:00  SAST

Ukukhusela Isiko

The Preservation and Protection of Xhosa Sacred Landscapes through the Memorialisation of Initiation Schools in the Eastern Cape, South Africa

Sisikelele Mlambisa

MArch 2022

Unit Leader: Dr. Finzi Saidi
Unit Leader: Mathebe Aphane
Unit Tutor: Bonolo Masango
Unit Tutor: Nomalanga Mahlangu

Landscapes of Memory

Examiner’s Choice: Prof Lone Poulsen

My project proposes a framework for preserving and protecting initiation schools in the Eastern Cape as sacred landscapes. The framework proposes that initiation schools be redeveloped using traditional sacred landscape preservation guidelines and current heritage policies. I remember recently visiting my village back home in the Eastern Cape, where I underwent my initiation into manhood. Upon taking a walk around the village, I discovered that the initiation school was no longer there. Houses had now encroached on the landscape where it used to be.

My project also seeks to commemorate those that had passed away or were injured in the process of the ritual by creating a memorial for them. In the last decade, it is estimated that 900 initiates have died. These are some of the victims that have passed on, some as young as 15 years old. My site is located in the Eastern Cape in a village called eKuphumleni. The village is surrounded by major nodes around it. A public hospital, train stations, a quarry, and a dam.

I chose four points of acupuncture:

  1. The chief’s homestead because it is a point of authority. This is where land matters are discussed, and traditional and cultural practices take place.
  2. The second point is an existing spring that is still active.
  3. The third acupuncture point is the old initiation school site.
  4. And the last acupuncture point is the access road to the village.

The framework will propose that initiation schools are redeveloped using historical and traditional sacred landscape guidelines and current heritage policies.

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