Efukwini : sacredness and the aesthetics of birth amongst amaXhosa

Penxa-Matholeni, Nobuntu (2019)

CITATION: Penxa-Matholeni, N. 2019. Efukwini : sacredness and the aesthetics of birth amongst amaXhosa. Stellenbosch Theological Journal, 5(2):425-436, doi:10.17570/stj.Supp. 2019.v5n2.a22.

The original publication is available at https://ojs.reformedjournals.co.za/stj


Efukwini is an IsiXhosa concept that refers to a birthplace in an umXhosa home. It is where the mother and her new-born will spend the first 10 days of his/her life away from the rest of society, attended to by a select group of older women or guardians. During this time, the child will be given a name and ukuwisa (the falling off of the stump of the umbilical cord) which is called inkaba is expected to take place. In short, this ritual takes the foetus from birth to babyhood. Similarly, a parallel can be drawn between ulwaluko (the initiation ritual), which takes a boy to manhood. Newly graduated initiates are referred to as amakrwala, a name bestowed upon them during the process of ulwaluko. The young male initiates are to remain inside the ceremonial home for the first week. Both these rituals are considered sacred among the amaXhosa people. However, in more recent times, the birth ritual has lost its appeal. This articletherefore seeks to discuss, explain and theorize the purpose and meaning of the practice of efukwini from a narrative pastoral care perspective. A secondary aim is to understand why less emphasis has been placed on the ritual of  childbirth while the practice of ulwaluko has survived the transition into modern day IsiXhosa culture.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/109558
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