Theatre & Reviews

Inxeba: The Wound

Cast: Nakhane Touré, Bongiwe Mantsai, Niza Jay

Director: John Trengrove In iXhosa with English sub-titles)

Winner of 19 international awards so far, “Inxeba: The Wound” is a fascinating look into a world that is denied to most of us. It’s a penetrating study of a controversial subject: the Xhosa initiation ceremony.

Controversy has surrounded the making of the film with accusations levelled at the filmmakers saying the production disrespects the sacred cultural rite. However the producers have hit back, saying the film aims to start difficult but important conversations about this practice.

To add salt to the wound (so to speak) there is a strong homosexual thread running through the narrative. It also explores how the elders  are slaves to tradition abd refuse to be swayed by modern thinking, a key aspect in the film’s drive.

“Inxeba” is an intense cinematic experience and deals with the journey of factory worker Xolani (Nakhane Touré) who joins the men of the Eastern Cape community in the mountains for the initiation of a group of teenage boys into manhood. He serves as one of the caregivers.

When a defiant initiate (Niza Jay) from the big city discovers Xolani’s best kept secret, the man’s entire existence is threatened. The film also highlights in graphic detail a gay love affair between Xolani and Vija (Bongiwe Mantsai), a fellow caregiver.

The standard of the acting is natural and authentic and the story flows effortlessly through the highs and lows of the initiation process and the emotions that emerge when a group of men (both young and old) converge on a mountain.

At the end of it all, audiences will have to come to their own conclusion on a thorny subject that lies deeply embedded in African culture.


About the author

Peter Feldman

Peter has been a journalist and arts critic for almost 50 years and served on The Star in various capacities for 35 years, ending up as a specialist writer on films, music and theatre. During that time he travelled extensively on assignments and interviewed many international film and pop stars, both in South Africa and overseas. He also covered some of South Africa's biggest film and musical events. He was one of only two South African journalists to be invited by Steven Spielberg to the Hook film junket in LA in 1991 where he interviewed the famous director as well as Dustin Hoffman and the late Robin Williams. He attended the gala James Bond premiere in London in 1981 and did an iconic interview in a Rolls Royce with Roger Moore who played Bond. He spent a week touring England with Queen prior to their Sun City visit in 1983, interviewed a host of international stars on films sets in Hollywood and London and was the first local journalist to nail an interview with The Rolling Stones prior to their SA visit in 1995.
He is active in the freelance field and his work has appeared in a variety of South African newspapers and magazines. He has also worked on TV and radio (ChaiFM 101.9) in his specialist capacity. Over the years Feldman has been the recipient of several awards for his contribution to music journalism and the SA record industry. He is a recent recipient of the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz award in recognition for his long standing journalistic support for the arts. He wrote lyrics for some top artists, including Sipho Mabuse, and had a hit disco single, "Video Games," which was released in 1988. He coined the phrase "Local is Lekker" which he used in his columns in The Star Tonight and broadcast in the 70s on David Gresham's popular afternoon show on Springbok Radio.

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