From Jay Griffiths Wild: an elemental journey
In South Africa, there are projects to get young gangsters out onto the land, to experience, temporarily, the wilderness. I talked to Quentin Fredericks, who spent five years in gangs in the ghettoes of Soweto, between the ages twelve and seventeen. He told me about the blood rituals, including having to steal or stab a perso. To be a fully-fledged member you have to kill a member of a rival gang. "I refused to kill, so I couldn't go back - because if you refuse, your life is forfeit. This is a thing about blood: lifeblood must flow. These rituals bind you for life. There are rape rituals: you have to rape a woman. I didn't do that".
When Fredericks was seventeen, he was sent to prison. He now works taking young people out bush for "purposeful and constructive" rituals. He speaks of the role of the wilderness in traditional initiation and how it can be recast as a way of dealing with ganag teenagers today. (The judicial system is beginning to recognise the success of these projects, one judge saying recently that he wouldn't send young people to prison if they agreed to go on such a wilderness course.