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The significant but different roles that commercial alcohol and umqombothi play during the amaXhosa initiation ceremonies have been highlighted in the Social Work Master’s degree research of Mzoli Mavimbela, 31, who will graduate on 14 December at Nelson Mandela University.

With the title “The views of amakrwala on the meaning of umqombothi and commercial alcohol use during the initiation ceremonies” Mzoli will be graduating Cum Laude.

The study explored the views of amakrwala (Xhosa male graduate-initiates) on the meaning of umqombothi (traditional beer) and commercial alcohol use during the initiation ceremonies in George, as there was a scarcity of literature on youth perceptions on this topic.

The research findings suggested that both commercial alcohol and umqombothi play significant but different roles during each stage of the initiation ceremony.

While the study participants recognised the traditional importance of alcohol use during the ceremonies, they were concerned about the recent major cultural shift caused by many reasons, including modernisation.

One of the major issues raised is the overshadowing of umqombothi by the overuse of brandy and beer. This is further exacerbated by the commercialisation of umqombothi and the lesser value attached to its significance during current ceremonies.

Mzoli wants to do his doctorate in either Anthropology or Health Sciences and expand his knowledge on this research topic.

His supervisors were Dr Zurina Abdulla and Prof Zoleka Soji in the Social Development Professions’ Department and Prof Luvuyo Ntombana in Sociology and Anthropology.

Mzoli also recently won the SALA (South African Literary Award) in the Creative Non-Fiction Category for his book titled MASIBUYEL’ EMBO KONAKELE PHI NA? He describes himself as a poet, author, ethnographic researcher, translator, editor, newspaper columnist and social worker.

Mzoli grew up in Port St Johns in the Eastern Cape and obtained his Social Work degree in 2014 at Mandela University and now resides in George.

He works for SANCA (South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence) as a Social Worker with individuals, groups and families who fight the battle of substance use/abuse addiction. He is also a project manager for people who inject drugs (PWID project).

To date, he has published five books (poetry, short stories, fairy tales, traditional literature and a novel – all in isiXhosa).

“Completing my Masters was not an easy journey as I had to maintain balance between my job, my university research as well as writing my books, but my work proved that nothing is impossible”, he says.

Contact information
Ms Elma de Koker
Internal Communication Practitioner
Tel: 041-504 2160