This paper reviews the movie “Umgidi” and explains its significance to the society. The authors’ of this movie are Sipho Singiswa, Gillian Schutte and Vuyo Singiswa. It was published in San Francisco by California Newsreel, in 2004. The movie talks about two brothers who are struggling to accept modernism while at the same time trying to keep their culture and tradition. The director of the movie is trying to explain the importance of accepting changes in the society with the changing economic, social and political cultures of the time (Schutte & Singiswa, 2011). The aspects of kinship and gender are also explained by how the male in the community have to undergo circumcision and how it is seen as a serious event especially to the men in the society.
The movie shows how Vuyo, who is younger brother to Sipho Singiswa, tries to run away from their culture and tradition. The main practice of circumcision is a routine in their tradition, a rite in which it is believed that younger men are transitioned into adulthood. Sipho, who had been formerly imprisoned on Robben Island for five years, can be seen receiving a call from his father who seeks his assistance in convincing Vuyo to undergo circumcision. Tagging on that, a letter is sent to him from his brother enlightening him how he had discovered that he was adopted at birth (Schutte & Singiswa, 2011). The only option to Sipho was to return to Cape Town to try and help Vuyo who is convinced that his elder brother knows the whereabouts of his biological parents.
So as to act as a role model to his younger brother, Sipho who had been secretly undergone circumcision while serving his sentence in Robben Island prison but did perform the complete ceremony as per their tradition, decides to do so at that time. While preparing for the day, Vuyo reveals that he is gay; a practice that is seen as an abomination in their culture. This news takes the family into another shocking and confusing mood. To add insults to their condition, Vuyo attempts to commit suicide on the eve of the circumcision ceremony (Peter, 2014). The movie reconnoiters a family unit as well as a country attempting to give value to modernity and tradition, it shows the way Sipho is trying to assist his younger brother so that he can accept his culture, but Vuyo is trying all the means to run away from the realities at that moment.
Initiation observances are important in many societies since they represent periods of transition in the life of those people who embrace it. Most of these practices exceed time besides remaining conserved despite the rising modern cultures. The significances of such rites differ greatly owing to the existence of varying interpretations; for example, in some setups, circumcision is undertaken among children to protect them from catching infectious diseases while among religious societies such as in Judaism, it is a symbol of manhood and cleansing (Peter,2014). For the case of Xhosa people in South Africa, circumcision represents the beginning of new age filled with accountabilities and opportunities. It is the significant moment for boys to become men, to be differentiated from a woman and be able to take full responsibility of a family on his own. In this community, circumcision and all the other rituals that accompany it, is a crucial initial stage in the attainment of manhood.
The most striking significant fact about the Xhosa people is that, even the education they receive from school as well as the Christian teachings, and the continued interaction with the Europeans in migratory employment has impact on their view of how circumcision is vital mark of manhood. It is a practice which every young boy is yearning to pass through irrespective of their level of education or modernization (Peter, 2014). This in comparison to what happens in the Umgidi movie, shows how the Xhosa community are ready to connect to their past by sticking to their cultures and the roots of their ancestors.
For the community, the practicing male initiation has to commence with an official preparation by elders at home mostly by the fathers to their sons. It differs from one person to the other since some will have to return from their places of work or schools, while others will have the better advantage of being with their parents all through making the means of communication easier. These has some similarities with what is seen in the movie, Sipho, returns to Cape Town to undergo full initiation practices despite of being circumcised while in prison(Schutte & Singiswa, 2011). The main reason is to familiarize with his culture and fulfill what is required of every man in the society. During the initiation ceremonies, speeches are delivered by elderly men in the society advising the initiates how to take care of their homesteads, something taken seriously in the African context.
In conclusion, it is evident that initiation rites have a purpose in the society, having effects not limited on domestic surroundings, but beyond the native level as well. They build bases for strong relationships among communities that have a shared culture and assist in outlining roles and giving prominence to people who have attained a certain level or age group (Peter, 2014). In regard to the Xhosa community, circumcision is perceived as a tool for improving where a man adopts an image of aggression and governance.
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