Perceptions of selected married men and women on Nkolola initiation Ceremony in Mazabuka and Monze Districts of Southern Province, Zambia

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Kanyimbo-Maambo, Mary
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The study sought to establish the perceptions of married women and their husbands towards initiation ceremonies among the Tonga speaking people of Mazabuka and Monze Districts in Zambia. This is in light of conflicting perceptions of initiation ceremonies faced by society today. Some sections of society argue that the ceremonies should be abolished or restricted to young women of a certain age group (preferably women about to get married). Other sections of society find nothing wrong with the ceremonies and look down upon all individuals who have not undergone initiation.The objectives of the study were to find out what initiated women and their husbands think are the positive and negative influences of Nkolola initiation ceremony, Examine the perceived effects of the Nkolola initiation ceremony on behaviour of initiated women as perceived by the women and their husbands, assess the perceived significance of Nkolola initiation ceremony in a married woman’s life and Investigate what initiated women and their husbands feel can be done to help make modifications to values taught during Nkolola initiation ceremony. A descriptive survey approach was used to conduct the research as it was best suited in describing the perceptions of married men and women of the Nkolola initiation ceremony. The study made use of 200 participants comprising 100 initiated women and their husbands. The study also used qualitative methods of data collection and the researcher subjected herself to the Nkolola initiation ceremony to have first-hand experience and ensure validity of findings. The framework of the study is based on the socialisation theory, the gender socialisation theory and the social identity theory. The study findings revealed that the ceremony was perceived to influence the initiates’ behavioural change in a good way as it made women mature, and instilled virtues of respect, obedience and community life. It was also seen to play a cardinal role in preserving cultural values and traditions. Further it is seen to prepare young girls in their transition to adulthood and teaches them survival skills like income generation. On the other hand, the study revealed that the Nkolola initiation ceremony exposed sexual knowledge to girls at a young age, this created curiosity among young girls who would be prompted to start experimenting with sex and hence this was perceived to make them vulnerable to prostitution. The study recommends that those organising the Nkolola initiation ceremony should adopt an age specific selection criteria when delivering lessons to the initiates. This will help to mitigate the observed trend of teaching young girls marriage lessons which they are clearly not ready for. Furthermore, the lessons taught during Nkolola need to include economic independence before venturing into marriage so as to empower women and reduce the prevalence of early marriages. A book on the values and lessons taught in the Nkolola initiation ceremony should be written so that an account is kept and uniform virtues are taught to would be initiates. This will be an important means of preserving the culture and tradition of the ceremony and other initiation ceremonies for our future generations.
Initiation rites , Rites and Ceremonies