Rhodes Graduate Lightened The Stage With Her Xhosa Dance


Millions of people graduate every year but what makes the day a memorable one depends on how you prepare to celebrate it. A graduate at Rhodes University expressed her excitement at her graduation ceremony in Grahamstown when she performed the traditional Xhosa dance before moving to receive her degree.

Beautiful Tolakele Silo got herself joyously taking on her Xhosa dance when her name was called at the 1820 Settlers National Monument on Saturday, her family joined in the celebration calling out family’s clan names as she danced on the stage.

Dressed in the traditional apparel and holding her whip, Silo surprised hundreds of sitting guests with her dance as they all applauded her.

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No doubt Silo prepared to entertain the crowd and bring lightness to the often strict and formal ceremony. She also wanted to use the opportunity to dispel the idea that such ceremonies were Western.

“I danced because I was owning the moment, because I wanted them to feel that this was my moment and I worked so hard realizing that,” she said.

“I wanted to break the norm of many people thinking that for one to be formal, they have to go Western. You can be formal in your own culture.

Silo went further to explain the essence of wearing traditional attires which are made for special moments and her graduation ceremony is one of such.

“When we wear our traditional things we don’t just wear them, we wear them to things like weddings, of which in the African context, weddings are a formal thing.”

Pointing out the uniqueness of celebrating one’s graduation, the lady said it ought to be more entertaining  with lots of fun for all who come to celebrate with you.

“It should be entertaining to both you and the people who will be clapping for you at the end, so we should change that not-so free environment to a free environment, that should make you appreciate your hard work.”

According to News24, When her family first heard about her idea, they tried to discourage her, with fears that she may be barred from graduating because she would not be following the rules.

rhode's dance 1

Her mother in particular worried about the fact that her daughter would not be allowed to walk to the stage with no shoes on, but having seen her determination on this, they had to support her by arriving in their own traditional clothes

“At first my mom kept discouraging me a bit, but she was for it at the end. My sister who was laughing at this idea, also dressed up and besides dressing up, came barefooted which was very surprising,” Silo said with a slight laugh.

Silo graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Media Studies and isiXhosa. No wonder she loves the Xhosa dance.

She is currently studying a postgraduate diploma in enterprise management. She plans on doing her MBA next year or pursuing a Masters degree in African languages, if she can secure the funding, she said.

rhodes girl

Speaking on how her friends reacted at her presentation, she said they were happy and inspired

“I have been getting a lot of Facebook messages with people praising me for what I did and I’ve been getting a lot of people… congratulating me, mostly happy about me breaking the norms and mostly inspired about me inspiring them to inspire other people as well.

“The love is so overwhelming,” she said.

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