XCUS (Xhosa Cultural Union of Students) is a cultural society established within the University of the Witwatersrand. It is the oldest cultural society at the University and was founded in 2001. Its aim is not only to unite Xhosa speaking students within the university but to also establish a sense of identity and cultural knowledge in the space of the educational institution.
XCUS encompasses young vibrant students, majority of them coming from the Eastern Cape.
This year on the 02 May 2015 it held its opening function and celebrated 14 years since its inception. The theme for this year’s event was: Singama Afrika, singabantu abanye. Losely translated to mean: We are Africans, We are one! The theme was inspired by the recent Xenophobic/Afrophobic attacks that engulfed certain parts of KZN and Gauteng. Well known and beloved long standing SABC 1 Xhosa News reader, Noxolo Grootboom was given the task to unpack this theme. She started by encouraging students to take and use the opportunity of being at such an educational institution wisely as most people were unable to access such education due to challenges of the past, herself included.
She gave an amazing speech in IsiXhosa, first pointing out how interconnected we as Africans are. How her own identity is made up of personal connection to people from all over the continent, pointing out how she has blood relatives in Zimbabwe, among the Sotho, coloureds and some cousins who are white.
“The story of humanity is written in our body parts that harbour information of our origins, our dna. Being black does show how we look like but does not tell us who we are. Being an African connects us with the land. It connects us with our history. It connects us with our traditions & customs. We are all Africans because our lineage is in Africa. If you don’t know who you are, as I have just introduced myself, and where you come from, there’s not much else you’re going to know.”
“That is why it’s important for you to not be unsure or ashamed of your African-ness.”
“Being an African means that if you are born in Africa, Africa is also born in you. Being an African is about caring and Africa and its people. Being an African is about having a strong bond with fellow Africans. Being an African is about respecting the diverse African traditions, and cultural value systems. Being an African is about being united towards a common vision with fellow African making use of our diverse talents and abilities. We are Africans, We are one!”
Sojini Cultural Society gave a brief history of their society and its purpose. It is a group whose purpose is to help Xhosa people from all over the world to connect & unite and is mainly made up of Xhosa people from outside South Africa. It pointed out how there are so many Xhosa people in many African countries who have been based in those countries for more than 100 years and still maintain their language, traditions and cultural value systems.
There are Xhosa people who were taken out of South African by Cecil John Rhodes in the 1880s, taken to work in his mining operations in the former Southern & Northern Rhodesia. Rhodes unfortunately left most of them stranded in those countries and they never managed to get back home. They are classified as foreigners when they come to South Africa though they are South Africans and Xhosa by origin. Sojini pointed out how the borders that were drawn up by European colonialists at the Berlin conference of 1885 have divided African people and that we now have a responsibility to unite as African people, because indeed we are one. Zolani Mali, an executive member of Sojini is one such person affected by the borders created by colonialists. He is a 4th generation descendant of a priest from Ngqamakhwe, Eastern Cape who left in the 1890s and settled in the then Southern Rhodesia with his wife MaMiya and son. He is now a resident of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe and they have found that there are many other Xhosa people based in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Malawi and many other African countries.
This also clearly showed how unnecessary it is to educate the South African public in curbing Xenophobia from ever happening because indeed, We are Africans, we are one!
Jessica Mbangeni, a well-known praise poet who also praised the Xhosa King during his coronation in Nqadu Great Place, Willowvale on the 15th May 2015 also gave an inspiring talk on the need for Africans to unite and the need for cultural identity and self-knowledge. Mbangeni touched on a number of issues and emphasised that Africans need to learn to do things for themselves. Sivuke sizenzele! African students must get the qualifications and use them to solve Africa’s problems, invent products and ideas that will advance African people. We are Africans, we are one!