Vukhomba: An Analysis of the Puberty Rites of Passage for Girls among Vatsonga in Relation to Sexuality Education


Thelmah Xavela Maluleke
Human Sciences Research Council, Pretoria, South Africa

Series: Countries and Cultures of the World, Human Sexuality
BISAC: SOC026000

This book is based on a study entitled “Puberty Rites for Girls (Vukhomba) in the Northern Province of South Africa: Implications for Women’s Health and Health Promotion”, which was conducted in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. It was a qualitative study conducted among the Vatsonga in the rural villages of the Limpopo Province to provide a comprehensive and holistic view of the vukhomba rite of passage. Ethnography was used as a strategy to discover the nature, attributes, characteristics, and meaning of the vukhomba. In total, the author spent one year and six months in the participating villages collecting data. Data collection was conducted through participant observation, focus group interviews, key informant interviews, individual interviews, pictures and audio-visual materials. The author spent a total of four weeks in each village, observing puberty rites at different times and conducting different interviews. This enabled her to closely observe the participants, their roles in the initiation and the activities within the rite. After completing the vukhomba rite, semi-structured interviews with the newly initiated girl made it possible to examine the initiates’ views about the rite. Focus group discussions were held with initiated women, initiated girls and vukhomba elders, in which they shared their views and beliefs about the vukhomba rite and related issues. Key informant interviews conducted with traditional leaders, the vukhomba supervisors, life orientation teachers and religious leaders added another dimension to the understanding of the vukhomba rite. Lastly, feedback workshops were conducted in each village to afford the vukhomba rite participants an opportunity to verify and make inputs on the analysis, interpretation and findings about the rite. The corrections and additional information gained through the workshops were incorporated. This book presents a critical analysis of the rite in relation to puberty rites in other cultures and nations. (Imprint: Nova)

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

List of Figures



Chapter 1. Overview of Puberty Rites for Girls

Chapter 2. Puberty Rites for Girls Among the Vatsonga

Chapter 3. Meanings, Taboos and Responses Related to a Girl’s First Menses

Chapter 4. The Vukhomba Initiation Process

Chapter 5. The Final Vukhomba Rituals

Chapter 6. The Vukhomba Rite in Relation to Sexuality Education


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