AN ANC election poster bearing the face of a Xhosa initiate has come under fire from traditional leaders who called it an embarrassment and demanded the ANC withdraw the poster.
The poster is on display in several townships and shows an initiate wearing a blanket and his face covered with clay.
”It is an embarrassment and I personally feel it is an insult to the Xhosa culture. Initiation is a private matter and I don’t see what this has to do with elections. It is simply undermining our culture.,” said Sithembele Yathaza of the Movement of Traditional Leaders in the Western Cape.
Yathaza said the ANC had not consulted traditional leaders before putting up the posters. “No traditional house in the province would have agreed. I can’t see why they would put up those posters.
“I think they are making fun of our tradition.
Initiation is private that is why it takes place in the mountains or bush. Its privacy deserves to be respected.” He added that the ANC as a political party should be embracing and respecting the privacy of initiation.
“This is actually contradictory to the constitution because the constitution clearly states that all cultures should be respected, but they are invading the privacy of our tradition,” he said.
Chief Mtayaza of the Cultural Community Movement said: “I cannot believe it. The dignity of our tradition is being undermined and the worst part of it is that it is the ruling party. The ANC can’t use our tradition to gain votes.”
Mtayaza said initiation was an important part of Xhosa culture. “No one or any political party is allowed to abuse it to gain whatever they are wishing to gain. As a chief I think it is a disgrace and whatever the ANC’s reason, they need to justify it. They should have known better,” he said.
He called on the ANC to reconsider having the posters on display because it would upset many people.
ANC spokesman Keith Khoza said the poster was about the message and not about the face of the initiate.
“In those posters we say young people should respect their cultures. It is not about the face of the person in it.”
Khoza said there was no need to consult the traditional leaders before the posters were put up in public. He said the poster did not in any anyway offend any tradition.
Khayelitsha resident Vuyani Khophiso who went to initiation school in December said:
“These posters are showing how an initiate looks like and that is not allowed. The reason for us to go to the mountain is because we want it to remain there and no one else must know about it.”
He said that he had felt disrespected when the posters went on display.
”It is not good for us to see these posters. they must be removed.”