Author: Ashley Kang
Date: January 2011
People: Lukhanyo Antoni (pictured) believes that he can fortify himself with powerful, protective spirits by grinding the root of the Khubalo tree with the blood of a white chicken. | Photo by Mackenzie Reiss
Data points: According to a survey as part of a project called “Living in Grahamstown East/Rini,” about 17% of households in Grahamstown reported experiencing housebreaking or burglary in 2002. Some 11% of individuals said they'd experienced a serious personal crime such as rape or assault.
Amakhoshi is a process that brings a young man power and peace.
To gain strength and for protection, teenage males may opt to grind down the root of the Khubalo tree, mixing the powder with the blood of a pure white chicken, to fill their gut with powerful spirits that can be called upon when needed.
Lukhanyo Antoni, 19, who lives in Extension 8 in the township outside Grahamstown with his mother and younger sister, performed the practice as a way to protect himself from the violence where he lives. He explains that if he is in a crisis and needs to fight, he can place a string of red and white beads around his neck and the voices in his belly will direct him what to do next. He does not always wear the beads, but keeps them with him in his pocket, pulling them out when needed.
Because he has amokhoshi, he says he feels powerful and protected.
The process begins with collecting the root from the Khubalo tree and grinding it into the powder. Boys slice the throat of a white chicken and mix a few drops of the blood with the ground root. The mixture is ingested, and nothing more can be eaten for seven days.
Going through the ceremony also heightens the man’s ability to attract females, and his connection to traditions.