One of the most important productions of the South African, and possibly the African film industry in its entirety, hits our big screens this weekend, The Wound Weekend has finally arrived.
While South Africans have waited with bated breath for Inxeba (The Wound), which tells the story of a young gay boy’s rite of passage in rural Eastern Cape, the film has been making international headlines over the past year.
There have been mixed reactions with certain traditional leaders calling for a boycott of the film as they feel that it depicts the sacred Xhosa initiation practice in a bad light.
Besides bringing the centuries old traditional right of passage process to the fore, the storyline also has some members of the Xhosa community up in arms. The main plot is the relationship between two men (Vija and Xolani) who have had a secret relationship for years and only meet during initiation season where they help young initiates into manhood. Of course there is nothing wrong with this queer love story, if anything, this is what makes the film special. If it did not explore this unique storyline, Inxeba could actually just have been a documentary detailing the transition of young Xhosa males into manhood.
As the American saying goes “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”, for the most part, the same rule has applied to initiates with regards to the secrecy behind the process of this ritual.
As the annual initiation season arrives, there’s usually negative publicity surrounding this tradition with anticipation of how many deaths will occur from botched circumcisions at fake and unregistered initiation schools. Not only is this a beautiful love story but a lot of misconceptions about what happens at the mountain will be ironed out and better understood once most South Africans have seen the film. It might even inspire our local media to explore fresh news angles surrounding this sacred right of passage.
We’re always preaching the need to tell our own stories and preserve our cultures and traditions, how then does one protect their heritage from extinction if they are too proud to share it with the world?
Despite these cries locally, Inxeba has won several international awards and premiered at prominent international film festivals including the Sundance Film Festival as well as the 67th Berlin Film Festival.
Every South African needs to watch this beautiful love story with an open mind and an open heart, so let us flock in numbers to our local theatres to see what the rest of the world has been raving about.
*This post was written by Moeketsi Max Mogotsi. Find him here