Controversial award-winning film "Inxeba" ("The Wound") opened in South African cinemas on February 2 to a mixed reception.
The Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa) has called for a boycott of the film, arguing that it misrepresents the traditional Xhosa ulwaluko rite of passage (the traditional male initiation and circumcision ritual).
Ahead of the opening, Contralesa marched on various cinemas across Eastern Cape, resulting in the postponement of screenings at Walmer Park shopping centre in Port Elizabeth and Hemingways Mall in East London.
Please be advised that, due to protest action, screenings of #Inxeba ('The Wound') will not proceed as planned. If you've booked, we will gladly refund you or exchange your tickets for another film—contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We will update you as the situation warrants.— Nu Metro Walmer Park (@numetrowalmer) February 2, 2018
Since the release of its first trailer, the film – which is entirely in isiXhosa – has been the talk of the town, sparking debates in various communities.
It tells the coming-of-age story of a gay city boy (played by Niza Jay Ncoyini). He goes on a journey to manhood while at an initiation school in rural Eastern Cape, but refuses to conform to the Xhosa culture's idea of masculinity.
Man And Boy Foundation director Nkululeko Nxesi previously told Mail & Guardian that his organisation is also calling for screenings of the film to be blocked.
He said the foundation views the movie as an onslaught on the Xhosa culture.
"Traditional initiation schools are sacred spaces — not a space for sexual activity, regardless of whether it is homosexual sex or not. Others are against "Inxeba" because of the homosexuality but that argument fuels homophobia, which is quite dangerous – it is fuelling hatred.
"Our line of argument is not that. Our view is that even sex between a married couple cannot happen there, because it is a sacred space," he told the newspaper.
Reacting to the protest, people took to social media to share their views – for or against the film being screened.
Here are some of the reactions:
Mna bhuti as someone who was privelege to get private screening of the movie what I am against is the distortion, misrepresentation of isiko. The researchers failed doing their job. I am not part of protesters but I was taken back by the lies in that movie— Veve (@LudidiVelani) February 2, 2018
I can't wait to come back home to SA to watch Inxeba. I fully support the movie and I have a suspicion that all the protesting is much ado about nothing. Our culture is not being degraded nor sold. Your manhood is not an cannot be degraded by a simple movie.— Khaya Dlanga (@khayadlanga) February 2, 2018
16 initiates died last year. Dololo protest action from Contralesa and friends. A movie about the toxicity faced by Queer men in traditional spaces, which opens up dialogue, is made and all of a sudden they are alive. Contralesa and that Women's department are a joke. #Inxeba— Sivuyile Mtshemla (@Slayvuyile) February 2, 2018
This is ridiculous. Violent, fragile masculinity brazenly making its toxic & destructive mark. https://t.co/U5qdOuDaYN— Redi Tlhabi (@RediTlhabi) February 2, 2018
In other parts of the country, the movie has opened in cinemas without any protests reported.