By Mayenzeke BAZA


Documentary - Completed 2013

Themba is 28 years old. According to his society he is a man, but he can not see himself like that. Themba underwent traditional circumcision, a secretive ritual within the Xhosa people and lost his penis.

    • Year of production
    • 2013
    • Genres
    • Documentary
    • Countries
    • Languages
    • Budget
    • 0 - 0.3 M$
    • Duration
    • 90 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Mayenzeke BAZA
    • Producer(s)
    • Andy JONES (Screenstation), Brian WOODS (True Vision), Pascal SCHMITZ (Amariam )
    • Synopsis
    • Ndiyindoda( I Am A Man)
      Many seconds seemed to pass before I remembered the cry ‘Ndiyindoda!’ – ‘I am a man!’ I did my best to hide my agony. A boy may cry but a man conceals his pain.
      Nelson Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
      In my Xhosa culture being circumcised is as sure as taxes. Just as Jewish boys will be circumcised and have a Bar Mitzvah, so will Xhosa boys go to the “Bush”.The ritual is an ancient tradition with deep relevance in South African societal structures however currently there is a problem… while the ritual has shaped some boys to become men, others have been maimed and still others have died. My film will go in search of the reasons why we still go through with it when we know circumcision has become compromised. Does having your foreskin cut off in early adulthood truly make you a man, and if it takes more than a ritual to truly make a man, is it worth risking so many lives?
      Sibusiso is 18 years old. On the 4th of June 2013, he will leave his school and go to fullfill his traditional rights of passage. His foreskin will be cut off and his face painted white. The cutting will be done in a traditional way with no form of anaesthetic and he must endure the pain and shed no tears. He will spend three 3 to 4 weeks in the bush for his penis to heal, during which time he will be schooled in the ways of Xhosa men.
      This ritual is an ancient tradition, and deeply respected in South Africa.But there is a problem … young men are dying. Last year, in December 2012 during the initiation season 24 boys died…
      Andisiwe Msindwana was a single mother with one son. But last December, her boy died from scepticemia during his intiation. She only knew of his sickness the morning he died. She is angry and wants answers. She is also doing what no Xhosa woman has done before, and questioned whether this centuries old tradition should continue, when more and more young men are dying. Did her son die a MAN?
      Themba a 28 year old man, now leaves with no penis. He lost it seven years ago when he underwent circumcision. As he battles today from hospital to hospital, from office to office, to try and find a sence of worth. He says, “ It would have been better if I was dead”. They sent me there to be come a man but I ended up loosing my manhood. Is themba a MAN?
      Ndiyindoda will follow Sibusiso as he prepares to leave his school friends and head into the bush for his Coming of Age retreat, and follow him through his ritual transition into manhood.
      At the same time, juxtaposed against this narrative arc, the arguments for and against maintaining a tradition that some see as barbaric will be played out – with Andisiwe campaigning to make her son’s death less meaningless, while tribal elders fiercely defend the practice against what they see as secular interference and unnecessary modernisation. As Themba fights to get medical treatment from hospitals, he also has to fight with the society that thinks he is gay because he has no interest in women.
      My personal journey has given me insight and equipped me to tell this story. Having gone through the ritual myself. I ask you to journey with me into this complex ritual, taking you by hand introducing you to the elements that suppose to tranform a Xhosa boy into a MAN. Do they become MEN?. Using my voice as a narrative element.
      “So many of us have gone to the bush,
      but every year some of us don’t come back.
      Is any tradition worth so many lives?
    • Partners & financing
    • Hot Docs Blue Ice Fund
      National Film and Video Foundation
      IDFA Jan Vrjman Fund
    • Production schedule
    • Production June 2103
      Post Production August 2013
    • Beginning of shooting
    • Jun 01, 2013