“Umfazi akangeni ebuhlanti ”is a term I’ve heard most of my life at home. Ubuhlanti is a family kraal. The term loosely translates to “a woman is not allowed in the kraal.” It has been almost a year since my brother went through the process of ulwaluko. As I look forward to a new season of ulwaluko, I reflect on my brother's journey and what it taught me about women in the context of ulwaluko.Ubuhlanti is central to the ceremonies and process of uLwaluko. There was the term again. And lots of other rules that pertain to the removal of women in certain sections and activities reserved for men. 
I grew up in a matriarchal system. Around cousin’s, aunts, grandmother, great aunts and close family friends. uMkosi’umkhulu and this army is held on the back of these women. The oldest woman in my life is 74. She is my mothers mom. She and her two other sisters Kholeka and Vuyiswa are the only surviving children from my paternal great grandparents. So they occupy the highest position in our family matriarchal system. This reflection is also a celebration of the strong women in my life. Women who raise sons alone. They sing when in pain and joy. And they hold strong spiritual and religious belief systems. Conflicted individuals, who sometimes deal with issues they too cannot articulate, so conflicts erupt because of misunderstandings and the like. My brother going to the bush for his transition made me understand a side of this process I overlooked. This understanding was that, like any other situation in this world, it cannot happen without the physical, emotional and mental contribution of women. Observing my mom over this period made me come to this conclusion. Restricted from most things, but women are the ones who do everything. 

To all the Xhosa families with young boys headed for their journey these holidays, I send love, I send strength and I pray for the safe return of your loved ones. Especially the mothers, you are all in my heart. 

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