The pedi culture 

The stages of growth and

development of the male were

defined 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 adult man (monna).

At each stage

there were certain set rules to be

observed and rites of passage to

be passed.

The first of the initiation sessions

for boys (bodika) gave them full

membership of the group and the

second (bogwera) incorporated

them into the society of men,

according to the class and

position to which they were born.

Initiation was always timed for

midwinter and depended on the

presence of a high-ranking son or

grandson of a chief among the

initiates. He would be the leader

of that lodge and remain the

lifelong leader of that regiment.

In this way, the men would be

linked to the chieftainship.

A few days before the first

session, two officials would be

nominated by the chief ’s inner

council to manage the session and

thus to act as envoys of the chief.

A medicine man would also be

elected to perform the

circumcision. He was usually

from outside the group, to reduce

the possibility of


During the night of the opening

ceremony, the initiates of the first

session lined up in single file,

according to social status, behind

the leader and were each given

two lashes on the back.

This lashing by rank consolidated

forever the fact that social status

was gained by birth alone, not by

achievement. It added another

dimension to the education

function of initiation: to position

candidates within the structure of

the group.

Before dawn the next day, the

war-horn was blown and the

initiates ordered to the river

where they were circumcised and

left to sit in the cold water of the

river, to deaden the pain. After

resting for the rest of the day, they

were marched to the initiation

lodge (mphato). Each kgoro had

its own fire around which the

members of that family sat. The

fires had great symbolic

importance since each had been

lit by an ember that had come

from the chief ’s fire and had to be

kept lit for as long as the

initiation proceedings lasted.

Initiates of the same bodika

received a name just before the

initiation ceremony was finished.

For the rest of their lives, they

would use this name to

distinguish them from the other

age groups with

different names. These age groups

also represented regiments that

had a military function. Once the

bodika had been given a name,

the initiates were told the date of

the end of the session and food


prepared for a feast to celebrate

the homecoming of the initiates.

About two years later, the ogwera

session started. It was very

similar to the first although it was

less formal and only lasted for

about a month. The main purpose

of this session was to incorporate

the initiates into the society of

men with its accompanying


The session also served to

build lifelong ties of solidarity

and co-operation between the

members of the regiment.

When the Pedi men went off to

seek work as migrant labourers on

the farms and in the cities, these

networks helped them to find

work and accommodation and

served as useful communication


Pedi girls, like the boys, also passed through certain stages of development. These stages were

known as baby (lesea), girl (mosetsana), uninitiated girl (lethumasa), mature maiden (kgarebe),

member of a brief period of transition (sealoga), initiated maiden (mothepa) and maiden with

recognition of her status of maturity (kgarebe). Only after a woman had married and produced her

first child could she gain the status of mosadi (woman). The initiation course of the girls simply

initiated them into membership of the group.

On the day that the second initiation session of the boys ended, the initiation session for the girls

began (byale). Only girls who had gone through puberty could undergo the initiation that was directed

by the principal wife of the chief, assisted by the old women.

The girls were summoned to the chief’s kgoro by the blowing of the war-horn and taken to a secluded

spot in the bush where all their hair was cut off. They wore a special leather apron which their parents

had given them, as well as a back apron, and were marched off to a secluded spot in the bush where

they were subjected to a very realistic simulation of the circumcision rites undergone by the boys.

The girls were secluded in a lodge and instructed in the duties of women. They were taught to respect

all men and especially the chief, given instruction in sexual matters as well as being subjected to

endurance tests. Singing and dancing played an important role and a special drum, the moropa,

which belonged to the chief, usually accompanied the girls.

After the seclusion, the girls bathed, participated in rituals and were then allowed to return home. In

earlier times, their legs were tied at the knees and their bodies covered from neck to ankle with grass

mats. They had to remain this way for nine months or until the harvest was brought in. While in this

garb, the girls had to help their mothers with their household duties in daytime and at night return to a

special shelter built behind the homesteads of each kgoro. Here they would receive lessons in songs

and the correct behaviour.

As a sign of the completion of their initiation, the girls would henceforth completely change their

style of dress and their hairstyle. Initiated girls were known as mothepa, but were not yet


Many Pedi still believe in the importance of initiation but it has become a source of social division in

contemporary Pedi society. Differences exist between the traditionalists and the Christians and have

at times caused serious problems, such as traditionalist youths kidnapping Christian youths and

forcing them to undergo initiation.

Music and dance

A six-note scale was traditionally used to play a plucked reed instrument (dipela). However,

contemporary musicians have graduated to the Jew’s harp and the German Autoharp.

The kiba dance was one of the best-known Pedi dances. Men and women performed this dance but

each group had a different version. An ensemble of players with aluminium end-blown pipes with

different pitches accompanied the men who wore kilts with traditional regalia. The women were

accompanied by singers and wore the traditional smocked clothes usually worn for the first time after

the initiation process. Both men and women dancers were accompanied by drums.

Courtship and marriage

A Pedi marriage not only cemented a relationship between two people but also legalised a binding

relationship between two families. A Pedi marriage was regarded as a legal matter and did not involve

any religious rites. The existing status of the bride and groom as fully initiated adults was

strengthened by their marriage but the marriage did not give them new or higher status as was the

case with many other African groups. As the status was a legal one, it merely increased the powers,

obligations and duties of the two people.

The marriage was based on the transfer of payments (magadi) from the groom to the bride’s parents.

In return the bride’s family transferred her ability to have children to the groom’s family. The contract

was therefore only fulfilled when the first baby was born.


Like the other Sotho-speaking groups, the Pedi believe in and fear the so-called Tokoloshe (the

dwarf). Some people maintain that the Tokoloshe is much maligned and is in fact a rather mild little

creature who is particularly fond of children. However, some Black people still adhere to the tradition

of placing their beds on bricks to make it impossible for the dwarf to steal up on them during the


However, the teachings of Christian missionaries have caused many Pedi to become Christians and

to abandon the old beliefs.



Let me give you a brief description of Pedi culture
Culture describes the many ways in which human beings express themselves for the purposes of uniting with others, forming a group, defining an identity, and even for distinguishing themselves as unique.
Cultural expression is highly sensual in that human beings often create activities, practices, symbols, and so on that can be easily consumed by our senses. For example, culturally distinct forms of dance or physical movement attract our senses of touch and sight; whereas culturally specific foods seek to activate our sense of taste and smell.
Although “culture” is not necessary for the survival of the human species, notions of culture and cultural identities are present in almost every human society on earth. As the world moves closer together through increased globalization, migration, and technological advancement human beings are beginning to question the role (and reach) of culture within all aspects of human existence. The “question of culture” is one that reflects on how culture has historically been used to justify and legitimize certain behaviours, practices, traditions, and overall ways of living. For example, while drafting the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, several countries represented at this United Nations General Assembly meeting that year took reservation with some of the tenants of the declaration that were perceived as being in “conflict” with their cultural practices and beliefs. In this example, using culture to refrain from agreeing with a set of international standards for handling cases of violence directed at women, posed a difficult situation given that it placed culture at odds with upholding universal notions of human rights.

The global issue of culture encompasses many diverse matters of interest which include: Religious Freedom, Cultural Diversity, Disability Culture, Indigenous Peoples, Global Citizenship, and Languages.

Languages = the ability to communicate thoughts, emotions, changes in time and beliefs through words and physical movement. Every human being has the capacity to develop at least one language (i.e. the mother tongue) in a lifetime.

Social and Cultural Life

The Pedi lived in huts, which were round in shape and known as rondawels. Rondawels were made out of clay mixed with “boloko” (cow dung) in order to strengthen it. The roofing of the rondavels was made from a particular grass called “loala” which was strong and long, and they would pack the grass in bangles and roof the houses.

Traditional Pedi food consisted of; thophi (a meal which is made from maize mixed with a fruit called lerotse), morogo wa dikgopana (spinach cooked and given a round shape and left to dry up in the sun). Bogobe bja mabele, samp and maswi (milk), masonja (mopane worms) is also eaten as well as vegetables and fruits like Milo and machilo.


Belief System

The Pedi believe in ancestors and gods, they believe that through ancestors they can talk to gods about their needs. They also believe that when the time is right young men and women should go to initiation school.

They also reckoned that anyone who violates how things are done concerning culture and their tradition is to be taken away from the village.


Pedi Rituals:

When it comes to marriage the elders would choose the spouse for their son or daughter. If the parents knew their child liked someone in the village they would go to that family and introduce themselves, to discuss the future nuptials. And thereafter arrangements would be made on how the two people would meet.

A decision would then be made by the girl’s parents as to how many cows or money will be paid as Bogadi, then the 2 may be together. If a man died, an unmarried younger brother would marry the widow, in order to support the family and take care of the children.


The mother usually gave birth at her family home and after she returned to her husband’s home, her family would contribute meat and beer for the subsequent feast. As a tribute to the status of the new mother, her husband would build her a homestead. When a baby was born to the chief the villagers have to go to the royal house (moshate), give presents to the child, and wish the baby well.

After a few days there would be an announcement from the chief’s servants that a ceremonial party would be held whereby the villagers would sing and rejoice for the newborn baby with food and drink that is traditionally prepared.


When a person dies they bury him / her after 7 days so that they could have enough time to arrange everything including informing the friends, relatives and all the people who need to know about the death of that particular person. This was in order to give them time to be able to attend to the funeral.

The day before the person is going to be buried they will cover him / her with cow skin. Everybody will then get a chance to see that person for the last time (go tlhoboga), and the will be buried.


Music and Dance:

Songs were also part of Pedi culture. During hard labour the Pedi would sing together to finish the job quickly. One particular song was about killing a Lion to become a man.

The act of killing a Lion is very unusual and no longer practised. Actually it was so unusual that if a boy managed, he would get high status and the ultimate prize – to marry the chief’s daughter.

following day he / she will be buried.


Music and Dance:

Songs were also part of Pedi culture. During hard labour the Pedi would sing together to finish the job quickly. One particular song was about killing a Lion to become a man.

The act of killing a Lion is very unusual and no longer practised. Actually it was so unusual that if a boy managed, he would get high status and the ultimate prize – to marry the chief’s daughter.


all girls and boys goes to komeng (initiation school) during june to around august and when they come back from komeng they then have ceremony to celebrate their manhood or womanhood





kindom of the pedi 

After the death of Sekwati (the former king of bapedi), a struggle developed between his eldest son Mampuru and Sekhukhune,

son of his favourite wife. Sekhukhune seized power by killing all the senior advisors who had

supported his brother’s claim to the throne and forcing his brother into Swaziland. After this he was

able to subdue any groups opposed to his rule.

However, continuing problems with settlers over land and labour caused the relationship between the

Pedi and the white settlers to deteriorate and in Mat 1876 the Transvaal Volksraad declared war on

the Pedi. In the first battle, the settlers suffered a resounding defeat. Two months later the Transvaal

Republic was annexed by the British Crown.

The conditions offered to Sekhukhune were oppressive and he refused to accept them. An armed

force was mobilised and finally defeated Sekhukhune after approximately 1 000 Pedi warriors had

been killed. Sekhukhune was captured and imprisoned and the power of the Pedi nation was finally


Under British rule, the Pedi were placed in a number of official reserves, of which Sekhukhuneland

was the foremost. In the 1960s, Sekhukhuneland, together with a number of other reserves, was

incorporated into a homeland for the Northern Sotho people. The homeland, known as Lebowa, is

now part of the Northern Province.


Everyday life

In earlier times the Pedi used to live in villages, which were divided into different kgoro. Each kgoro

consisted of different households, built around a central area, in which the cattle byre, meeting place,

graveyard and the ancestral shrine was situated.

Each wife had her own round thatched homestead that was connected to the other homes via a

series of open-air enclosures, encircled by mud walls, and was called a lapa. The homes were ranked

in order of the seniority of the wives.

The village people spent most of their time in the courtyards between the homesteads and the

surrounding walls. Each home had a public courtyard in front of the house where guests were

entertained and a private courtyard behind the house where the members of the household would

spend their time.

Internal political organisation

In traditional Pedi culture, subordinate groups seemed to enjoy autonomy but the social controls

maintained the dominance of the Pedi. The most popular method of ensuring Pedi dominance was to

force the subordinate chiefs to take their principal wives from the ruling dynasty. In time this evolved

into the custom of the sons of subchiefs marrying their cousins and paying an inflated bride price for

the privilege. The lesser chiefs were expected to pay their dues in other ways as well and also had to

keep the senior chief informed of all important events.

The chief’s court handled all appeals, as well as dealing with political issues such as the relationships

between groups. Communication between the paramount chief and the lesser chiefs was also a

complicated matter and was handled by a group of intermediaries.




In Pedi culture the chief would wear clothes made out of wild animal skin such as Leopard and Lion to show leadership and he was from the ruling house (moshate).

Ordinary people wore clothes made out of domestic animal skin such as goats, sheep and cows. However, the Pedi have changed their mode of dressing because of the present trends in fashion.

There are many spoken dialects of Sepedi but only one written language. The Pedi are known for storytelling. The stories are usually told in the evenings but nowadays radio and TV have replaced them.




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