Setting the boys to fight each other

The valorous boy chose boys according to their age and set them up to fight each other without any quarreling but as a game. Mr. Nzuza gave the explanation.

1 The person consulted
2 Who plays this game?
3 What equipment is used to play the game?
4 Where is it played?
5 When is it played?
6 How is the game played?
7 Custom associated with this game
8 Source

The person consulted:
The researcher was assisted by Mr. J. Nzuza who is 68 years old. Mr. Nzuza lives at Umlazi D section. He gave an explanation of how this game is played. He also gave an explanation of some other expressions which needed to be clarified like ‘ukucela empunzini’ (running away). Mr. J. Nzuza says that if boys are set to fight each other they were brought together and had to face each other. If the other one failed continuously to ward off blows, he would escape by running away. “Impunzi” is a buck known for being very fast when chased by dogs during hunting. It is believed the boy being defeated is compared to this buck because of the speed with which he runs away from his opponent so that he is not caught.

Who plays this game?
This game is played by herd boys and older boys. This means that from a young age of four upwards boys can play this game

What equipment is used to play the game?
To play this game 2 sticks are needed for each boy.

Where is it played?
This game is played in the pastures when boys are herding cattle.

When is it played?
It is played during the day as the boys are herding cattle throughout the year.

How is the game played?
Boys chose a treeless spot where the fights will take place. The valorous boys checked and ensured that the boys to be set for the fight were of the same age and body stature. After the assurance was made, the boys to fight took two sticks per person and moved to the open space. These boys were told how to hit each other and places where they were not supposed to hit like in the head to avoid too much bleeding which could be fatal. They were also told not to poke each other with the sticks to avoid hurting each other.
Once the two boys were out in the cleared spot, they would start making insinuating remarks at each other. As one tried to hit, the other would ward off the blow. If the one striking hit his opponent on the body, he would cry, “Surrender!”. If the other one wards off the blow successfully he would cry, “You missed!”. If one of the boys gets more blows and fails to ward them off, he would escape and run away like a buck. However, this act, which showed cowardice, was not encouraged. When the valorous boys realised that one of the boys is being defeated, they usually stopped the fight. Other boys will be set to fight until everybody has had his turn if there was still time.

Custom associated with this game
This game displayed how traditional fighting took place. In this way boys trained for the future. There was no formal training needed for fighting in wars. It was customary and in accordance with the history of the nation that boys will train themselves to be the warriors for their nation in future. It was common practice and a custom for a male to carry his two sticks wherever he went so that if ever he is challenged he can defend himself and be able to fight. A person was supposed to know the tree he cut the sticks from and how to use them as he had supposedly learnt as a youth. It then goes without saying that a person couldn’t be set up to fight if there were no trees in his area of residence.

From a Masters dissertation by Victoria Mkhize for the School of IsiZulu, University of KwaZulu-Natal. Supervised by Professors P.J. Zungu and V. Prabhakaran.

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