Changes in lifestyle and cultural practices of a relocated Pondo

Essay by subojacUniversity, Bachelor'sB, September 2004

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I propose to study a Xhosa woman (Florence) with no specific tribal ties, who married a member of a prominent, albeit poor, Pondo family. After living in Pondoland (Transkei) they eventually moved (± 1990) to a farm is Swellendam (our farm), along with 2 other families. This move brought about many changes, in both lifestyle and the way in which their traditions and culture are practiced. I propose to firstly, look at the way in which their lifestyle has changed, or in some cases, have opposed western or modern changes because of cultural beliefs, e.g. Upon arriving in Swellendam they promptly refused electricity, believing that the Tokoloshe would follow the electrical lines to their house. However, after a few years of reasoning they agreed to have electricity installed if they could bury the power lines themselves, thereby ensuring that the Tokoloshe cannot walk on them.

There are also a number of cultural/traditional changes that were very interesting, especially concerning religion and initiations.

Originally, they conducted their initiations and circumcision in the nearby mountains. However, later they were convinced that have the circumcisions done at the local hospital would be much safer. After a few year they again returned to doing it in the mountains, by request of the initiates themselves, even though the elders agreed that the hospital would be safer. The interesting thing was that while in Pondoland, they would never have considered changing their rites, could their move to Swellendam, away form their traditional environment, have triggered this? Here I find I disagree with some of my sources, most believe that the Pondo would not easily change their age-old initiation rites, yet they did this easily. However, the return to the original rites could signify a return to their roots and a need for belonging...