Of Bazezuru Women and All-White Attire

| December 8, 2014 | 0 Comments

As modern lifestyle creeps in, some of the traditional practices eventually diminish into the doldrums of history. However there are some ethnic groups that are still holding unto their traditional practices despite this erosion of culture.

One such group is the Bazezuru of Mandunyane. They, just like others countrywide, are still holding unto their old traditional dress code the white dress and the white head scurf.

The dress code distinguishes them from any other tribe and although the attire looks simple, to them it carries a lot of significance.

In an interview with BOPA recently, one of the female elders from the community Ms Reginah Raphael noted that the attire started off as a religious garment for the female followers of African Gospel Church in Zimbabwe.

She said as time went by, the dress code was then incorporated into their culture and today they consider it as a crucial part of their cultural heritage.

Raphel said wearing this code does not only distinguish them as followers of the church, but rather it is a source of pride and status as it also gives them a sense of belonging. She said the dress is made long in such a way that it covers the body up to the angle.

“This dress is normally made long so as to cover the body of a female up to the knees .It is against our faith for a woman’s body to be seen by anyone,” she said.

Furthermore, all female members of the church should be seen wearing the complete attire as a way to show that they have repented, adding that the youth are also encouraged to wear the attire to show they will be responsible adults.

She also noted that unlike other dress codes, the Bazezuru women wear their all-white attire regardless of the occasion, be it marriage or bereavement.

On another note, Raphael expressed fear that modern trends such as education might lead some Bazezuru women to forsake their all-white attire due to influence from other tribes.

She further revealed that although the attire is made of only white garments, they are faced with challenges of some Bazezuru women who choose to mix their attire with other colors, a practice that distorts the beliefs and significance of the church.

Another church elder, Edward Hamadziripe also explained how Bazezuru came to settle in Botswana. He said in 1952, a group of the church’s evangelists travelled from Gandanzara in Zimbabwe to come over to preach the word of God.

They settled first in Moroka in the North East district and due to congestion, others later moved out and settled in villages such as Natale, Chadibe and Mandunyane.

Hamadziripi said their voyage was purely religious. They relied on the fear of God, hard work, honesty as well as the g spirit of self-reliance to make a living.

He explained that when they first arrived and as iron-smiths, they ventured into manufacturing items such as bath tubs, buckets, three-legged pot-holder (letshego), livestock bells and tables amongst others.

Hamadziripi said while polygamy is widely practiced among members of the community and the potential groom is identified and usually groomed at a tender age, they still regard themselves as Christians and even their moral values are based on Christianity.

He said it is acceptable for a man to marry more than once, adding that he is even allowed to marry relatives as long as he can provide for all of them. A married man is also expected to handle his family in such a way that some misunderstandings, which can lead to divorce, do not crop up.

He further noted that as their female counterparts are expected to cover their heads and wear ankle length white dresses, the males should shave their heads clean shaven and keep long beard.

Source : BOPA

Source : Botswana Daily News

Category: Human Rights

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