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The Institutionalization of a Zulu warrior.

There are a number of men’s hostels in and around Jeppestown, There is the Kwa Mai-Mai Mens Hostel, George Goch Mens Hostel and Wolhuter Mens hostel,  like many  in the country, these spaces harbored a breed of working man who was finding their place near their work environment,  accommodating numbers of black men moving into cities under permits, bringing with them cultures like isiZulu from their homes and practiced them unconventionally as a more sustainable way to life in an urban space.

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Unlike the homes the men came from, these blocks of flats were small spaces in which they couldn’t live in conducive areas that allows him to grow. This was challenging ways in which the cultural backgrounds many came with fell affected by the urban environment. It becomes hard when rural people are bombarded with Urbanized life, as these Zulu men are challenged every day to keep up with the development of the city and the stagnant progression of their own. South African history has seen these and such like Hostels as pivotal points to many uprisings against the governing body, which is even carried in today’s continued struggle.

Wolhuter Mens Hostel has fallen under the same suspect and tradition of taking matters into their own hands.  The men have expressed their views publicly demonstrating for better communal problems with living conditions, protesting for inclusion and against evictions of people within the Maboneng Precinct.

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Wolhuters, also known as Jeppestown Mans Hostel has been under international spotlight for reported xenophobic attacks, these encounters were reported on basis of Xenophobia against African Foreigners? ―Foreign nationals versus local residents. However the men expressed that it is rooted on not having equal opportunities in the Hostels let alone Jeppestown, Many suffer to maintain a stable standard of living  and  hostels tend to be institutionally wired to force men to react outside of their tradition.

From the time in which the hostel were commissioned to home men and managing the measures of maintenance and sustenance of the hostel, The country was largely exploding in uprisings, that reached life in the hostels, were raids and army interventions were regulated, sparking the spirit of black people during that time to persevere and grow to protest injustices and seek justice through organizing themselves.

Seen as hostile environments in which men “who are savages live”…. The dire conditions make it difficult for its people to thrive in spaces that obviously affect their actions. This causes high emotions to defend ones identity in a home, especially culturally, where the blame is said to be based on their tribal belonging or obsolescence, excluding other problems that traditional like people who settle in urban areas face.

What is unique about the struggle and its reformation is the new culture in which we as blacks adopted in the city and thrive traditionally. The pace of change is good as it brought about the end of apartheid and a sense of calm in like seen hostels but it also came with a price the whole country pays. In urban areas where the most immediate tragedy in this growth is loss of knowledge and traditions for continuation of African belief systems, hostels are one of the last identities of rural communities in urbanized places, which are gradually becoming stigmatized and not cared for areas to live in.

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However they do not always die out as we see in Jeppes Mens Hostel- small pockets of tribes who co-exist in practice of traditional systems that has kept them in harmony with each other and in wanting to change the hostels. Most of the Men in Jeppes Mens Hostel are Zulu and from KZN who come to the city for better Job opportunities. These Zulu warriors rely on their culture with conviction and pride to keep them in tune with themselves far away from home, through practicing an African system of Kingdoms and Chiefdom’s, by having chosen Manyathela Mvelase as the uNduna, Chief of the Hostel.

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uNduna is a calm like figure with elongated ears, as if to show how he hears to the peoples ills. There is a high sense of respect for him and all people who live together in the hostel. However the area has been left to decay, like the many buildings that are ran and abandoned by their owners in Johannesburg. Wolhuters is full of filth and unsanitary places to eat, places to bath and places to sleep. The men have ever since managed to take care of the hostel since the 90’s but still aren’t equipped to completely clean it up. Therefore the hostel has become an oppressive like institute that is not in good living condition for any people let alone strong Zulu men to continuously live there for generations, Which I believe leaves an eternal effect on the minds of the men who stay in Wolhuter. As a tactic to destroy the power in community constructs, the strongest people are isolated from the community and shown or put into places where their strength doesn’t count,  like in the Men’s Hostels…or say in Prison systems, were groups of men are packed in cramped like facilities. The invaders were very smart to break down the strongest families by taking the “bread winners” away from their homes, or imprisoning black males from communities in breaking them under conviction or even innocence.

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Thus the men of the hostel feel trapped and left alone by the government to fend for themselves isolated from the metropolitan area; almost like prisons outside the city skirts.  Leaving many voices of innocent men entrapped In Urban spaces were culture is becoming obsolete, the Zulu men who find themselves in these hostels have their potentials filtered down and suppressed making them believe that the hostel is the only place they belong.

We met uBab’Xolani  Mnyandu.“” one of Ndunas council who consults on matters that regard  the hostel. Bab’Xolani has strong traditional views and practices in the Hostel, relating to the chiefs advice, supporting the system of cultural belief in such places as the city and how vital it is for African people who find themselves in urban spaces, to live in community of one another and of the country at large.

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Indigenous knowledge is becoming extinct because of how the young are in contact with the outside world where traditional ways of living are no longer relevant and new ways are embraced. The Old generation of people feel it is difficult to persuade  the ambitious young that their better of hunting boar with blowpipes than reaching for the fruits of “civilization,” even if those fruits translate into a menial job in a teeming city,

For the well-fed, well-educated, renting eyes to the city life, One finds it hard to keep up  with the ever changing pace of informal like seen settlements or Hostels  who are dying out from no recognition by Governing bodies, Hostility then becomes  brewed in hostel homes to many men that live and complain of the conditions of these places.

If the developed world is to help indigenous peoples preserve their heritage, it must first recognize the culture shock of rural people that move into the cities and values they have or practice in urban environments to survive. Western science is founded on the belief that knowledge inexorably progresses; the new and improved inevitably drive out the old and fallible, but unlike the African system, that finds us here; Urban Zulu warriors, carrying ourselves in the present by channeling traditional ways of life in urban times, this is how we survive.

 

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