Pedi people


Pedi / Bapedi / Bamatoreng / Marota / Bashoto

The Pedi people (also known as Bapedi, Bamaroteng, Marota, Basotho, Northern Sotho) – are a Bantu ethnic group in South Africa and speak the Pedi language (Sepedi) . They are closely related to the Southern Sotho and Tswana people whom they share both lingusitic and cultural similarities with. Areas with significant populations are the provinces of Limpopo and Gauteng. Although the origins of the Pedi ethnonym is unclear, the first inhabitants of the Transvaal region( now parts of Mpumalanga, Gauteng and Limpopo) refered to the non-Nguni migrants as Sothos. Their collective language become known as Sesotho sa Bobedi which translates to the second Sotho or the other Sotho in English, this was further refined to Pedi which means two or second in the Sotho-Tswana languages and other Bantu languages.

Pedi people are of Sotho origin and belong to the Sotho-Tswana meta-ethnicity which consists of 2 other Sotho speaking groups; the Southern Sotho who predominantly live in Lesotho and the Free State province in South Africa, the Tswana who predominantly live in Botswana and the North West province in South Africa.


Pedi people


Identification. "Pedi," in its broadest sense, has been a cultural/linguistic term. It was previously used to describe the entire set of people speaking various dialects of the Sotho language who live in the northern Transvaal of South Africa. More recently, the term "Northern Sotho" has replaced "Pedi" to characterize this loose collectivity of groups. The Northern Sotho have been subdivided into the high-veld Sotho, which are comparatively recent immigrants mostly from the west and southwest, and the low-veld Sotho, who combine immigrants from the north with inhabitants of longer standing. The high-veld Sotho include the Pedi (in the narrower sense), Tau, Kone, Roka, Ntwane, Mphahlele, Th wene, Mathabathe, Kone (Matlala), Dikgale, Batlokwa, Gananwa (Mmalebogo), Mmamabolo, and Molet e. The low-veld Sotho include the Lobedu, Narene, Phalaborwa, Mogoboya, Kone, Kgakga, Pulana, Pai, Kutswe. Groups are named by using the names of totemic animals and, sometimes, by alternating or combining these with the names of famous chiefs.

"Pedi," in the narrowest sense, refers more to a political unit than to a cultural or linguistic one: the Pedi polity included the people living within the area over which the Maroteng dynasty established dominance during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Even this narrower usage should not be understood in a rigid sense because many fluctuations occurred in the extent of this polity's domination during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and processes of relocation and labor migration have occasioned the widespread scattering of its former subjects during the twentieth century. The present entry will consider the Pedi in this narrower sense.

Location. The present-day Pedi area, Sekhukhuneland, is situated between the Olifants River (Lepelle) and its tributary, the Steelpoort River (Tubatse). It is bordered on the east by the Transvaal Drakensberg range and crossed by the Leolo Mountains. At the height of its power, however, the Pedi polity under Thulare (about 1790 to 1820) launched raids on an area stretching from the site of present-day Rustenburg, in the east, to the low veld, in the west, and ranging as far south as the Vaal River.

The area in which Pedi could reside was severely limited when the polity was defeated by British troops in 1879. A reserve called Geluks Location—roughly coinciding with the core area of the Pedi heartland and including the village of Mohlaletse, where the paramountcy had been based—was created for them, and reserves were created for other Northern Sotho groups that had been subjugated with less effort, by the Transvaal Republic's Native Location Commission. Over the next hundred years or so, these reserves were then variously combined and separated by a succession of government planners. By 1972, this planning had culminated in the creation of an allegedly independent national unit, or "homeland," named Lebowa. Part of the government's plans to accommodate ethnic groups separately from each other, it was designed as a place of residence for all Northern Sotho speakers. Many Pedi had never resided in the reserve. During the period since the polity's defeat, they had become involved in a series of labor-tenancy or sharecropping arrangements with White farmers, lived as tenants on Crown land, or purchased farms communally as freeholders. Many had moved to live in the townships adjoining Pretoria and Johannesburg, on a permanent or semipermanent basis.

Demography. Given the changing extent of Maroteng domination, the fluidity of these subsequent residential arrangements, and the ambiguities about who the Pedi really are, it is difficult to make statements about population with any certainty. The 1961 census put the total population of Sekhukhuneland at 118,743. What can be stated incontrovertibly, however, is that the population of the Lebowa homeland increased rapidly after the mid-1950s, owing both to the forced relocations from rural areas and cities undertaken by apartheid's planners and to voluntary relocations by which former labor tenants sought independence from the restrictive and deprived conditions under which they had lived on the White farms.

Linguistic Affiliation. Sepedi, also known as "Sesotho sa Leboa" (Northern Sotho) is a southern Bantu language. The term "Sesotho" is used locally to describe not only a language but also a set of customary practices and moral codes conceived of as traditional. Whatever cultural and linguistic uniformity came to exist between the diverse peoples living in the northern Transvaal area was blurred at its geographical edges, through a variety of dialects and practices, into other languages and customs. Northern Sotho is thus closely related both to dialects not officially recognized, such as setlokwa, and to the officially recognized tongues of Setswana and Sesotho sa Borwa (Southern Sotho), with both of which it shares common origins.



In preconquest times, people settled on elevated sites in relatively large villages, divided into dikgoro, groups centered around agnatic family clusters. Each consisted of a group of households dwelling in huts built around a central area that served as a meeting place, a cattle byre, a graveyard, and an ancestral shrine. Households' huts were ranked in order of seniority. Each wife of a polygynous marriage had her own round thatched hut, joined to other huts by a series of open-air enclosures encircled by mud walls. Separate huts housed the older boys and the older girls. Practical demands, and aspirations to live in a more modern style, have led many families to abandon the round hut for rectangular houses with flat tin roofs. In addition, as a result of forced and semivoluntary relocation, as well as of a government planning scheme implemented in the name of "betterment," many newer settlements and the outskirts of many older ones consist of houses built in grid formation, occupied by individual families unrelated to their neighbors.



Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Preconquest Pedi combined cattle keeping with hoe cultivation. The principal crops were sorghum, pumpkins, and legumes, which were grown by women on fields allocated to them when they married. Most major tasks were done by communal work parties. The chief was entrusted with, and was depended upon to perform, rainmaking for his subjects. The introduction of the animal-drawn plow and of maize was later to transform the labor division involved in cultivation in significant ways, especially when combined with the effects of labor migration. Men's leaving home to work for wages was initially undertaken by regimental groups of youths in order to satisfy the paramount's firepower requirements, but later became increasingly necessary to individual households as population increase within the reserve and land degradation made it impossible to subsist from cultivation alone. Despite increasingly long absences, male migrants nonetheless retained a keen commitment to the maintenance of their fields: plowing now had to be carried out during periods of leave or entrusted to professional plowmen or tractor owners. Women were left to manage and carry out all other agricultural tasks. Men, although subjected to spiraling controls in their lives as wage laborers, fiercely resisted all direct attempts to interfere with the sphere of cattle keeping and agriculture. Their resistance erupted in open rebellion—ultimately subdued—during the 1950s. In subsequent decades, some families have continued to practice cultivation and to keep stock, but these activities are a long-term commitment to the rural social system in order to gain security in retirement, not a viable form of household subsistence.

Division of Labor. In preconquest times, women hoed and weeded; made pottery, sleeping mats, and baskets; built and decorated huts with mud; ground grain; cooked; brewed; and collected water and wood. Men did some work in fields at peak times, hunted and herded animals, did woodwork, prepared hides, and were metal workers and smiths. In the early 1960s it was estimated that about 48 percent of the male population was absent as wage earners at any given time. Between the 1930s and the 1960s, most Pedi men spent a short period working on nearby White farms, moved to employment in the mines or in domestic service, and later—especially in more recent times—to factories or industry. Female wage employment began more recently, and is rarer and more sporadic. Some women work for short periods on farms; others have begun, since the 1960s, to work in domestic service in the towns of the Witwatersrand. But in the late twentieth century there has been a rise in levels of education and of expectation, combined with a sharp drop in employment rates. Many youths, better educated than their parents and hoping for jobs as civil servants or teachers, stand little chance of getting employment of any kind.

Land Tenure. The precolonial system of communal or tribal tenure was retained by the colonial administration. In this system, a man would be granted land by the chief for each of his wives. Unused land was reallocated by the chief and was not inherited within families. Massive overpopulation resulting from the government's relocation policies has led to a modification of this system. A household's fields, together with its residential plot, are now inheritable, ideally by the youngest married son. Christian Pedi communities that owned freehold farms were removed to the reserve without compensation, but, since the advent of the postapartheid era in South Africa, many have reoccupied their land or are preparing to do so. The few Pedi who still live as labor tenants on White farms have been promised some security by a 1995 law passed by the government of national unity elected in 1994.



Kin Groups and Descent. The kgoro—a loose collection of kin with an agnatic cluster at its core—was as much a jural as a kinship unit, given that membership was primarily defined by acceptance of the head of the kgoro's authority, rather than by descent. Royal or chiefly dikgoro sometimes underwent rapid subdivision as sons contended for positions of authority.

Kinship Terminology. Pedi use a bifurcate merging system of classificatory terminology. Agnatic kin are distinguished from maternal kin. Within both groups, there is some distinguishing of relatives by age and sex. In the agnatic group, relatives of the parental generation are distinguished thus: father's older and younger brothers are ramogolo (big father) and rangwane (small father), respectively; and father's sisters, who are called rakgadi (female father), are treated with immense respect. In the maternal kin group, relatives of the paternal generation are distinguished thus: mother's older and younger sisters are mmamogolo and mmangwane (big mother and small mother); mother's brother is malome (male mother) and is treated with familiarity. Cousins within the agnatic group are distinguished by sex and given the same term as siblings: mogolle (for boys) and kgaet edi (for girls), whereas cousins outside the agnatic group are referred to as motswala and are undistinguished by sex. The use of this terminology appears to be for the most part unchanged, although terms deriving from Afrikaans are sometimes substituted (e.g., buti [brother]; sisi [sister]).


Marriage and Family

Marriage and Domestic Unit. Residence after marriage was traditionally patrilocal. Polygyny was practiced mostly by people of higher, especially chiefly, status. The preferred marriage partner was a close or classificatory cousin (especially, for a man, a mother's brother's daughter), but this preference was most often realized in the case of ruling or chiefly families: practiced by the ruling dynasty, during its period of dominance, it represented a system of political integration and control (see "History and Cultural Relations"). The preference for cousin marriage was based on an idea that the two sets of prospective in-laws were closely connected even before the event of marriage, and with an ideology of sibling linkage—the bohadi (bride-wealth) procured for a daughter's marriage would in turn procure her brother's bride, and he would repay his sister by offering a daughter to her son in marriage. Cousin marriage is still practiced, but is far less frequent than before. Polygyny is infrequent, many marriages end in divorce or separation, and a large number of young women remain single and raise their children in small (and often very poor) female-headed households. But new forms of domestic cooperation have come into being, often between brothers and sisters, or matrilineally linked relatives.

Inheritance. Previously, the oldest son of a household within a polygynous family would inherit the house and property of his mother, including its cattle, and was supposed to act as custodian of these goods for the benefit of the household's other children. With the decline of cattle keeping and the sharp decrease in the availability of land, there has been a switch to a system of lastborn inheritance, primarily of land (see "Land Tenure").

Socialization. The stages of the life cycle for both sexes were differentiated by important rituals. Boys spent their youth looking after cattle at remote outposts, in the company of peers and older youths. Circumcision and initiation at koma (initiation school), which was held about once every five years, socialized youths into groups of cohorts or regiments bearing the leader's name, whose members then maintained lifelong loyalty to each other and often traveled together to find work on the farms or in the mines. Girls attended their own koma and were initiated into their own regiments, usually two years after the boys' koma. Initiation is still practiced; it provides a considerable income to the chiefs, who license it for a fee or, in the late twentieth century, to private entrepreneurs who have established initiation schools beyond the chiefs' jurisdictions.


Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs and Practitioners. Ancestral worship ( phasa ) involved animal sacrifice or the presenting of beer to the shades, on both the mother's and father's side. A key figure in family ritual was the kgadi (father's older sister). The position of ngaka (diviner) was formerly inherited in the patriline but is now commonly inherited by a woman from her paternal grandfather or great-grandfather. This is often manifested through illness and violent possession of the body by spirits, the only cure for which is to train as a diviner. There is a proliferation of diviners at present, and many are said to be motivated only by the desire for material gain.

Arts. Important crafts included pottery, house building and painting, woodworking (especially the making of drums), metalsmithing, beadwork. Pedi music ( mmino wa setso: traditional music; lit., music of origin) has a six-note scale. Formerly played on a plucked reed instrument called a dipela, its musicians now make use of trade-store instruments such as the Jew's harp, and the German autoharp ( harepa ), which have come to be regarded as typically Pedi. The peak of Pedi (and Northern Sotho) musical expression is arguably the kiba genre, which has transcended its rural roots to become a migrant style. In its men's version it features an ensemble of players, each playing an aluminum end-blown pipe of a different pitch ( naka ; pl. dinaka ); together they produce a descending melody with richly harmonized qualities. In the women's version, a development of earlier female genres that has recently been included within the definition of kiba, a group of women sings songs ( diko a ; sing. ko a ) in which individuals improvise on older lyrics. Both are accompanied by an ensemble of drums, previously wooden but now made of oil drums and milk urns.



Important crafts included metal smithing, beadwork, pottery, house-building and painting, woodworking (especially the making of drums). Pedi music (mmino wa setso: traditional music, lit. music of origin) has a six-note scale. Formerly played on a plucked reed instrument called dipela, its musicians now make use of trade-store instruments such as the jaw harp, and the German autoharp (harepa), which have come to be regarded as typically Pedi. The peak of Pedi (and northern Sotho) musical expression is arguably the kiba genre, which has transcended its rural roots to become a migrant style. In its men's version it features an ensemble of players, each playing an aluminium end-blown pipe of a different pitch (naka, pl. dinaka) and together producing a descending melody that mimics traditional vocal songs with richly harmonised qualities. In the women's version, a development of earlier female genres which has recently been included within the definition of kiba, a group of women sings songs (koša ya dikhuru- loosely translated: knee-dance music). This translation has it roots in the traditional kneeling dance that involve salacious shaking movements of the breast area accompanied by chants. These dances are still very common among Tswana, Sotho and Nguni women. This genre comprises sets of traditional songs steered by a lead singer accompanied by a chorus and an ensemble of drums (meropa), previously wooden but now made of oil-drums and milk-urns. These are generally sung at drinking parties and/or during celebrations such as weddings.


Gender division

Pedi culture traditionally distinguished sharply between the sexes at all levels. This affected every sphere of their lives, from the knots to tie their clothes - men using reef-knots and women granny-knots - to initiation, status in the family and community, and division of labour.
Women did agricultural work, and men and boys work related to cattle. Male superiority was reinforced in daily life: for example at meals men and initiated boys sat together and were served first, and women ate with the other children. Legally women were, and often still are, perpetual minors, and had to remain under a male guardian. When women married they assumed their husbands' status. Thus a woman born a commoner could become a noble on marriage and attain a superior status to her elder sister, who then had to serve her. A woman could never rise above the level of her brother. Inheritance and succession were passed down through the male line, and women lived at their husbands' homesteads. This is, sometimes, still the case today. Many families, however, prefer to allow their daughters rather than their sons to inherit their fields and residential stands, since daughters - especially those undistracted by the obligations of marriage - are thought to be able to look after their parents better than sons can.

Traditional Pedi culture was more extreme than most other male-orientated societies in distinguishing between the sexes, tending to attribute amoral qualities and asocial behaviour to women. The inherent compulsion to do evil - witchcraft 'of the night' - was associated exclusively with women, and was passed from mother to daughter. Witchcraft 'of the day', however, was learnt, could be acquired by any-one, male or female, and was used only occasionally to harm someone.



The birth of the first Pedi child was an event of great importance: it not only brought a new member into the household, but also raised the mother to the highest status attainable. In addition, it concluded the obligations of the mother's family to the father and his family, while proving the manhood of the father and perpetuating his line. Confinement and the birth of the first child normally occurred at the home of the mother's family. After the birth, both mother and child returned to the father's household where a feast was held, to which the mother's family made a contribution of meat and beer. This discharged their final obligation to the father's family to provide a child through one of their members, for which magadi, a set number of cattle and livestock or their monetary equivalent, was paid. In recognition of the mother's new status, the father built a separate dwelling for her, as she now had the right to possess and control her own homestead. On her return with the baby, mother and child were secluded for a period in the new homestead. After this, a special feast (ngwana o tswa ntlong) was held to celebrate the arrival of the child in the paternal home. During the feast, ceremonies were performed which concluded the initiation of the child into the family and the mother into her new status.


Gender Distinction

In traditional Pedi society, gender distinction was a fundamental characteristic of initiation, emphasizing the essential differences between the sexes. Initiation simultaneously marked the passage to adulthood and invested the initiate with citizenship of the community, and, in the case of males, the right to participate in political and aural functions. An important benefit that initiation traditionally gave was to reinforce Pedi paramountcy over the other peoples within their empire or sphere of influence: lesser chiefs had to obtain permission from the Pedi paramount chief before they could start a new initiation. The right to grant or refuse permission enhanced the authority of the Pedi paramount chief, in that it gave him control over the right to citizenship and political and jurally participation. In more recent times, with individual chiefs at liberty to license initiation independently of central control, the ceremony is a source of considerable wealth to these chiefs, who are often accused of misusing the funds they collect in this way.



Initiation, known either as koma (from go koma, to circumcise) or lebollo (from go bolla, to hurt), was one of the most sacred institutions and important cornerstones of traditional Pedi culture. Attendance at the initiation schools was compulsory for all boys and girls of the appropriate age (which varies widely), but the two sexes were initiated separately. The boys underwent two sessions; the girls one. Through initiation 'they attained full adulthood and were incorporated into a distinct group. Initiation is still important to many Pedi, but has become a source - or perhaps a reflection - of social division. A major cleavage in contemporary Pedi society, between baditshaba (traditionalists) and bakriste (Christians), derives partly from contrasting religious beliefs but also from attendance or non-attendance at initiation. It may also reflect differences of social status and education. Early converts to mission Christianity were required to transfer their allegiance from the chief to the missionary, and their passage to adulthood was marked by being confirmed rather than initiated. The split between the two categories of people has occasionally flared up, in the contemporary period, with traditionalist youths kidnapping Christian ones and forcing them to become initiated against their will. While much of the Pedi initiation has remained the same, there may have been certain changes since the details were gathered on which the following account was based. It is therefore rendered in the past tense.

The first of the boys' sessions (bodika) introduced them into full membership of the group. The second (bogwera) incorporated them into the society of men, according to the class and position in society to which they were born. Bogwera entitled the man to sit around the ceremonial fire and take part in political and judicial activities. In contrast, the girls' initiation (byale) simply incorporated them into membership of the group. They were barred from participating in any political and judicial activities. They were also excluded from the elite status which males attained through their second initiation session.

The timing of initiation, which was (and is) always in midwinter, was dependent on the presence of a high-ranking son or grandson of a chief among the initiates. He was leader of the initiation lodge and life-long leader of that regiment or age-set (mphato); in this way the men were linked to the chieftainship. A few days before the bodika, a mas-ter (rabadia) and a deputy-master (moditiana) were nominated by the chief's inner council to control and direct the ceremony. They carried out their functions as the envoy of the chief. A medicine man (thipana) was also elected to perform the circumcision of each initiate. He was to be from outside the group, to reduce the threat of witchcraft.

During the night of the opening ceremony, the badikana (initiates of the first session) lined up in single file, with the leader in front. Behind him, in descending order of rank, were the others from the royal kgoro, followed by the boys from the next kgoro, down to the boy from the most inferior kgoro. The boys bent over and were given, in descending order, two severe lashings on their naked backs by the rabadia. The lashing by rank consolidated for ever the tradition that status was conferred by birth alone, and not by personal prowess. This process underscored the function of initiation in Pedi society, both to educate, and also to position candidates within the structure of the group.

Before dawn the next day, the war-horn (phalafala) was blown and, on the order of the rabadia, the badikana went to a river, where they were circumcised by rank. After the operation the boys sat in the cold water of the river, which helped to numb the pain. After resting for the day the boys were marched to the mphato (initiation lodge), again in rank. The lodge was constructed out of wooden poles and laths lashed together in a lattice work, which was then covered with grass and branches. It had two entrances, one in the east, for the exclusive use of the men officiating at the initiation school, and the other in the west for the boys. The men and boys also slept separately. Each kgoro had its own fireplace, around which the initiates of that family gathered and slept. The fires built had great symbolic significance, as they were lit by an ember taken from the chief's fire and, for the duration of the bodika initiation process, they were not allowed to die.

Daily routine during the whole bodika session varied very little. Most of the day was taken up by hunting and practising the crafts of men, such as leather and woodwork. The early mornings and late afternoons were devoted to formal instruction and the singing of initiation songs. The badikana were taught the masculine qualities of courage and endurance, obedience to their fathers, with a great deal of stress on demonstrating deference towards and respect for the chief. Traditional lore and formulae (which included history, rituals and rules) were taught using archaic language which had to be learnt by rote. Throughout, the boys were subject to tests of endurance, including daily lashings. Discipline was rigidly enforced, and death during initiation was not unknown.

The members of the bodika consisted of an age-set which, shortly before the end of the bodika, received a name. This group used to have a military function and was under the command of the kgosana ya mphato. The members measured their age by referring to this regimental name, distinguishing themselves in age from the members of other initiated regiments. Once the naming process was finalized, the group was notified of the date the bodika would end, and food was prepared for a great feast to celebrate the homecoming of the initiates.

On the final morning, the initiates washed off the white colouring with which they were decorated throughout the process. Each father cut his son's hair and gave him a new loincloth in recognition of his newly acquired manhood. The boys' bodies were then smeared with a mixture of fat and red ochre. At this stage they were known as dialoga (survivors). They were lined up in rank order and ceremonially lashed for the last time. After this, they marched off without looking back while the rabadia set fire to their mphato.

Some two years later the bogwera initiation session was convened. In form, this was almost identical to the bodika, except it was less for-mal and lasted for only about a month. During this session, the initiates were incorporated into male society, which enabled them to fulfill the responsibilities of men. The bogwera would also cement the bonds of brotherhood created through membership of regiments. Lifelong ties of solidarity and cooperation were created during the bogwera. Since the onset of labour migration, these ties have formed the basis of groups of 'home-boys' - banna ba gagesu - who have helped each other find accommodation and work in town, repatriated the bodies of deceased members, and kept each other informed about matters of importance which occurred in the countryside while they were working in town. Such groups even formed the core of fledgling ANC branches in the countryside and were at the heart of the 1958 Sekhukhune revolt, in which the Pedi rebelled against state attempts to control the use of land and cattle and to interfere with the chieftaincy.

The stages of male growth and development in traditional society were clearly defined and required the fulfillment of set rites of passage. These stages can be summarized as: baby (lesea); boy (mosemane); youth (lesoboro); circumcised youth (modikana); member of a short transitional period (sealoga); initiate (leagola); initiate undergoing the bogwera (legwere); and finally adult man (monna).

On the day the bogwera initiation session ended the byale (the girls' initiation) began. Only girls who had undergone a puberty ceremony were eligible to be initiated. Assisted by the old women, the byale was directed by the principal wife of the chief. Although the chief had the overall responsibility and authority for the byale, he was not directly involved in it in any way.

The girls were summoned to the chief's kgoro by the blowing of the war horn (phalafala). They were led to a secluded place in the veld where all their hair was cut off. Their mothers gave them a special leather apron (kgakgo) which they wore in front, combined with a back-apron (nthepana). They also wore a short smocked shirt (gentswana or nyebelese). The smocked style was originally introduced by missionaries but has become an article of clothing which denotes a traditionalist orientation. Their bodies were smeared with a mixture of red ochre and fat, after which they had to collect firewood and return to the chief's kgoro for the night. Before sunrise they were lined up in rank and treated with protective medicines. This was followed by individual lashings in rank order, prior to being marched off into the veld. At a secluded spot they underwent a frightening circumcision charade which emulates that undergone by boys. The girls would then be taken to a lodge where they were secluded for a month. During this time they received formal instruction on the work and duties of women. They were taught to respect all men, particularly the chief, given instruction in sexual matters and subjected to endurance tests. Singing and dancing played an important part in the byale and a special drum (moropa), which was normally kept by the chief, was used for this purpose.

After the seclusion, the girls bathed and participated in rituals and were then allowed to return home. In traditional times their legs were tied together at the knees and the girls' bodies were covered from the neck to the ankles in grass mats. They had to remain in this stage of transition for nine months, or until the harvest had been reaped. In recent times this period has been considerably shortened, to accommodate the demands of formal schooling. During this time the initiates assisted their mothers by day in their chores and retired at night to a special enclosure (thupantlo) which was built behind the homesteads of every kgoro. Here their tuition continued in the form of special initiation songs and monotonous repetition of formulae.

At the conclusion of the byale, the initiates were secluded in the veld for about 10 days while dikomana (initiation secrets) were revealed to them. The initiates were incorporated into a regiment, whose leader was the senior initiate. Again their hair was shorn and they bathed, after which they were smeared with fat and ochre. They proceeded to the royal kgoro, where they remained for two days. During this time the initiate was known as a sealoga. Once this period was over, they bathed in the river for the last time. Their parents gave them new clothes, which consisted of the stringed apron of the unmarried gin m the front and, reaching to the ankles, the back apron of marred women (nthepa). They wore a longer version of the smocked shirt (hempe or nyebelese). They changed their hairstyle to the tlopo, where the hair was formed into a flat bun on top of the head with the back and side hair shorn off. This was once the everyday head-dress of marriageable and married women, but its use is now restricted to initiation itself. The initiated girl was now known as mothepa, a stage leading up to full initiation (kgarebe). After this the girl was eligible to marry.

Pedi girls passed through stages of development and incorporation into society: lesea (baby); mosetsana (girl); lethumasa (uninitiated girl); kgarebe (mature maiden); sealoga (member of a brief period of transi-tion); mothepa (initiated maiden); kgarebe (maiden with recognition of her status of maturity). However, a female attained the status of being a woman (mosadi) only once she was married and had borne a child.