SA Naked School Choir: Teachers insist they are proud of Xhosa ‘tradition’
Premier Phumulo Masualle has assigned education MEC Mandla Makupula to investigate how members of a school choir were allowed to sing on stage naked when the department hosted an eisteddfod in Mthatha on Friday.
But the choir master, Asive Yibana, said they stood by their decision to strip naked and only wear inkciyo.
Yibana said they had decided to interpret the song for what it was.
“We are proud of our Xhosa tradition. We are proud of inkciyo. We are proud of Xhosa women and girls,” said Yibana.
School governing body member Fikiswa Beft said they were unaware of the incident.
“I have not even seen such a video. And I am sure none of the SGB members are aware of it. It’s the first time to hear about this,” said Beft.
No members of the school’s management were available for comment yesterday.
A video of the Masimanyane Senior Secondary school choir shows the choristers singing and dancing with their buttocks and breasts exposed.
The video went viral on social media this weekend, with many people expressing disappointment in the organisers.
The department hosted the music performance competition at Walter Sisulu University’s Zamukulungisa campus, including a traditional item that all schools had to perform under the theme “isiko inkciyo”.
This refers to a Xhosa tradition in which under-age girls are taught how to preserve their virginity until they get married.
The shocking part of the choir’s performance was when five lead singers opted to take off their traditional blankets (umbhaco) and dance with only inkciyo, small aprons which barely covered their private parts.
Adding to the controversy, the incident occurred on the eve of Child Protection Week, which was launched this week by Social Development Minister Susan Shabangu in Pretoria on Sunday, with the aim of entrenching the Bill of Rights which specifically states that every child has the right to be protected from maltreatment, neglect, abuse or degradation.
Masualle’s spokesman Sonwabo Mbananga said the premier was aware of the video and had assigned Makupula to investigate.
Only after that, said Mbananga, would the premier be in a position to comment as he would have been “appraised of all facts related in the matter”.
Provincial education spokesman Loyiso Pulumani said the department would dispatch a team of senior officials to visit the school today and investigate the matter.
He said a preliminary report suggested that the conduct was condoned by the Ndakana village community, where the school is based.
Pulumani said the report they had so far received suggested that the choir went on stage fully clothed, “then ‘emerged’ from the back of the ensemble disrobed towards the end of their performance. There was very little that adjudicators could have done by then.
“The director responsible will be holding a meeting with school management, the school governing body and parents (today) to get to the bottom of this,” said Pulumani.
Basic education minister Angie Motshekga has called for disciplinary action to be taken against teachers who allowed pupils to expose their buttocks and breasts in a school choir competition.
A video of the choristers caused outrage after it was circulated on social media‚ Daily Dispatch reported. Premier Phumulo Masualle has also called for an investigation into the event‚ which took place in Mthatha on Friday.
A teacher dismissed the criticism and said the costumes were part of the Xhosa tradition. Motshekga said the decision was inappropriate in a school competition‚ especially given the sexual predation faced by young women.
“It is extremely disappointing to see that our educators have exposed young girls to this type of public displays of nudity. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being proud of your culture and heritage‚ but there was absolutely no need for these children to perform completely naked. That indignity goes against the values of our cultures‚” Motshekga said in a statement.
The minister apologised to parents and sponsors of the competition‚ the ABC Motsepe Foundation‚ for the “embarrassment and negativity caused to its brand”.
“This is even more upsetting considering the increased sexual objectification of women and girls for the entertainment of men. We further apologise to the families of the young girls for the trauma and harm caused.”