Xhosa boys are shown wearing the white clay painted on their bodies that signifies transition to manhood. Around the teen years, Xhosa males traditionally are initiated into adulthood. The initiation includes a period of separation from family, during which older men mentor the younger ones. Still widely observed in rural areas, the initiation ends with the rite of circumcision.
There are nearly 43 million South Africans, most of them belonging to one of four major ethnic groups. The largest ethnic group is black (75.2 percent of the population); followed by whites (13.6 percent). Coloureds, as South Africans call people of mixed race, make up 8.6 percent of the population. Indians, mostly the descendants of South Asian immigrants, comprise about 2.6 percent of the population.
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Photograph courtesy South African Tourism