Students Promote Abstinence from Drugs and Sex
The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) Abstinence Forum, which functions under the HIV and AIDS Programme, recently hosted a celebration of abstinence. The event, which celebrated abstinence from the perspective of different African cultures, was held at the Howard College campus during Heritage month.
The aim of the event was to promote abstinence from risky behaviors (Alcohol and Drug Abuse) as this could lead to one being exposed to HIV and other life-threatening diseases. Virginity concept of “intombi Nto” and “insizwa nsi” from the Nguni cultures were celebrated through song and dance while different cultural and religious beliefs were narrated before the cheering audience.
The first speakers Ms Senabile Mhlongo and Ms Njabulo Zondi representing the Zulu culture, mesmerised the audience by firstly reciting their clan names.
‘I am proud to be “intomb” yoMzulu (Zulu maiden),’ said Mhlongo. ‘We are here to encourage abstinence and to tell you how Zulu culture praises abstinence as part of our tradition. In our tradition as girls we are expected only to have sex after marriage, the gratitude starts from Umhlonyane, where a girl is appreciated for entering womanhood. The stories about the greatness of staying a virgin, the euphoria of going to the reed dance is expected and done until Umemulo, where the girl is now praised for reaching her 21st as a virgin.’
The second speaker, a proud Nigerian scholar Mr Oluwatobi, taught the audience about the diversity that exists in Nigeria. He also spoke about the diverse communities in Nigeria and how similar these are to the South African cultures, especially the Zulu culture. Oluwatobi also complimented the South African traditional dishes and implored members of the audience to give Nigerian dishes a try. With regards to abstinence Oluwatobi said Nigerian girls and boys are traditionally expected to engage in sexual activities after marriage.
The third speaker speaking on behalf of the Abstinence forum, Ms Phumelele Simelane, surprised the audience with a Swazi traditional dance before going into details on what abstinence meant to the forum. She said the abstinence forum catered for all kinds of abstinence reasons including those that are cultural, circumstantial or religious. She further clarified that abstinence by people who are virgins was similar to that of people doing “secondary abstinence”. This involves people who have had sex before deciding to abstain for some reasons. ‘It is all abstinence,’ said Simelane.
Overall, the event was a huge success as students came out in their numbers to participate. In support of the event students were clad in different African traditional attires.
Words: Thembani Ntobeko Khumalo