The news of Ndoda’s cousin’s death along with five other initiates, splits the village and Ndoda’s household into strongly divided camps: those who support the old ways and those who reject them. Strife between the traditional father and his modern-thinking wife reigns, with Ndoda caught in the middle. Will he please his father and risk mutilation or death, or will be please his mother and forever be regarded as a “boy” in the eyes of his people? After an inspirational
encounter with his uncle, Ndoda chooses to honour tradition, and after ritual cleansing he runs naked with his peers into the special, secret world of the mountain. Faith and ritual rule by day in the bush university, as the elders educate the boys in the values and traditions of the amaxhosa, but by night, fears and superstition break through. Ndoda’s terror surfaces at circumcision time. He flinches in the moment and his “cutting” is severe. He tries to endure his pain and illness, but
the death of his friend Sipho breaks him and he desperately sends for his mother, hoping she will be in time to save him.