abakwetha, noun

Forms:
α. amakweta, amaquatiShow more amakweta, amaquati, amaqueta, magwetha, makweta, maqueta, maqweta (plural unchanged or maqwetas);
β. abakhwetha, abakwetaShow more abakhwetha, abakweta, abakwetha, bakweta (plural unchanged or bakwetas);
γ. mkhwetha, mkwetaShow more mkhwetha, mkweta, mkwetha, umkhwetha, umkwetha (plural unchanged or umkwethas); khwetha, kweta, kwetha (plural kwethas).
Plurals:
usually unchanged, or abakwethas.
Origin:
XhosaShow more Xhosa abakhwetha such initiates (singular umkhwetha). For notes on the variety of plural forms, see aba-, ama-, ba-, ma- prefix3, m-, and um-.
1. Frequently used collectively. A Xhosa initiate to manhood, ritually circumcised and isolated from other people for a prescribed period. Also attributive. See also ikhankatha, ikrwala, tshila. Cf. intonjane.
Note:
The rare unprefixed forms usually appear in attributive contexts.
α.
1833 S. Kay Trav. & Researches 75In the afternoon we strolled over the plain to a neighbouring hamlet to see the amaquati, or circumcised.
1835 A. Steedman Wanderings I. 54A number of boys confined within a circular enclosure, whose bodies were daubed over with white clay..the Amaquati, or newly circumcised, who are not permitted, for a certain period after the operation, to associate with the other inhabitants of their village.
1966 I. Vaughan These Were my Yesterdays 40I knew something outrageous would come of this junketing around with cloaks and daggers like makwetas or hula dancers.
1970 S.E. Natham Informant, Cape TownAmaqueta. Young African (Xhosa) man going through period of initiation.
1971 Sunday Times 11 Apr. (Suppl.) 6Still trying to spot those amakwetas? No woman must see them during their initiation.
1973 E. Prov. Herald 23 Jan. 8On another occasion the script called for Boesman and Lena to walk past two ‘maquetas’ in the dry Scabi riverbed.
1985 L. Sampson in Style Dec. 44He has a few tribal scars painted across his face with Maqweta paint.
1989 Grocott’s Mail 17 Mar. 1A group of magwethas..were going through initiation exercises on the farm.
β.
1860 W. Shaw Story of my Mission 460The sons of Christian natives, who have attained the age considered suitable for circumcision, almost invariably seek an opportunity to desert their homes and join one of the parties of abakweta.
1866 W.C. Holden Past & Future 183Which state of initiation is called ubukweta, the boys themselves being termed abakweta.
1891 Stat. of Cape of G.H. 1889–93 (1894) 254Act To prohibit the Native Dances known as the ‘Abakweta’ and ‘Intonjane’ Dances.
1920 S.M. Molema Bantu Past & Present 122The young men who were undergoing the rites were known as makoloanyane among the Bechuana, and abakweta among the Xhosa-Zulu peoples.
1955 J.B. Shephard Land of Tikoloshe 59Until their wounds are healed Abakhwetha do no work, but later..they help to herd cattle but do not mix with the younger Khwedinis.
1976 Daily Dispatch 20 Aug. (Suppl.) 4According to the custom, the initiates or ‘Abakhwethas’, were not supposed to appear in public.
1978 Post 20 July 1Mr Tambo was lured by companions to go to the ‘Mguyo’ dance — a drinking party for the ‘Abakhwethas’.
1993 Daily Dispatch 6 Aug. 11 (caption)These abakhweta were..sauntering down the main road near Bridle Drift Dam, East London.
γ.
1937 B.J.F. Laubscher Sex, Custom & Psychopathology 84At the Abakweta ceremony particular attention is paid to acts of disobedience of which the mkweta has been guilty during his childhood years.
1967 J.A. Broster Red Blanket Valley 126The initiation period lasts two to three months, and during this time the initiate or umkhwetha (plural abakhwetha) lives in isolation in a specially constructed grass hut.
1978 Daily Dispatch 17 Aug. 8A ‘Mkhwetha’ has died..after allegedly eating poisonous food at a circumcision school in the bush.
1980 E. Joubert Long Journey of Poppie Nongena 41I grew up with these customs. I took food to a young buti — when he was um-kwetha.
1988 E. Prov. Herald 13 Feb. 3Protests against the presence of an initiate (mkhwetha) as a State witness led to the postponement of a trial in the Port Elizabeth Regional Court this week.
δ.
1950 A.W. Burton Sparks from Border Anvil 181The ‘Kwetas’ went into seclusion in the forest.
2. Among Xhosas: the initiation period or ritual symbolizing passage into manhood; ubukwetha. Also attributive. See also circumcision sense 1.
β.
1937 C. Birkby Zulu Journey 282‘Abakweta’ initiation ceremony in the Transkei, with the novices wearing reed masks and skirts.
1973 Prog. through Sep. Dev. (Info. Service of S. Afr., New York) 14An important milestone in a tribal society is a young man’s initiation into manhood. The Xhosa call this ritual the Abakwetha which is part of youths’ education.
1979 E. Prov. Herald 2 Feb. (Indaba) 2Some go so far during their abakhwetha period to attend functions, appearing there well-dressed before returning to the bush.
1980 E. Joubert Long Journey of Poppie Nongena 41The most important of these beliefs is the abakwetha, or the man-making ritual.
1980 E. Joubert Long Journey of Poppie Nongena 42We never knew what they did to the boys in the bush, that they can cut the foreskin to make men of them. We just knew it was abakwetha.
γ.
1955 J.B. Shephard Land of Tikoloshe 60His khwetha blanket, his grass hat and even the hut where he had sheltered, were burned to ashes, symbolizing the obliteration of his past.
1991 Settler Vol.65 No.1, 3Only after initiation does he play any part in tribal life. He is recognized as a man after he has attended Khwetha school.
Frequently used collectively. A Xhosa initiate to manhood, ritually circumcised and isolated from other people for a prescribed period. Also attributive.
the initiation period or ritual symbolizing passage into manhood; ubukwetha. Also attributive.
Derivatives:
Hence abakhwetha transitive verb (passive), to undergo initiation into manhood.
1970 S.E. Natham Informant, Cape TownQuedien. Young African (Xhosa) man before he has been amaqueted.
1993 J. Bursey Informant, GrahamstownFrom the Saturday morning, after they’ve been ‘abakwethed’, they’re not allowed to drink anything until he comes back to change the dressing for them.

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18331993

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