SA’s circumcision rit­ual: a dan­ger­ous route to man­hood

It’s the right thing to do for young Xhosa men, but there are con­cerns

African Independent - - NEWS - MAX MATAVIRE

prac­tices in a re­gion of steep hills, dirt roads and rough tracks.

It has also passed a law set­ting out a min­i­mum age of 18, and es­tab­lish­ing a registry of ac­cred­ited bush doc­tors and schools. From the age of 16, boys can be cir­cum­cised with their par­ents’ per­mis­sion.

Di­maza ap­pealed for any ini­ti­ates suf­fer­ing from in­fec­tions or ill-health to go im­me­di­ately to hos­pi­tal, adding par­ents should not feel so­cial pres­sure for their chil­dren to have tra­di­tional cir­cum­ci­sions. “It is our cul­ture – but if the par­ents want their child to have it med­i­cally, we don’t ob­ject,” he said.

The tra­di­tion has be­come tainted in re­cent years by com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion, with some bush doc­tors charg­ing large amounts of money, while some ini­ti­ates have been found to be as young as 13.

Initiation cer­e­monies have also spread to other prov­inces such as KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga, boosted in part by UN-backed in­for­ma­tion that male circumcision re­duces the risk of het­ero­sex­u­ally­ac­quired HIV in­fec­tion by 60%.

For one bush doc­tor, proper care should mean that ini­ti­ates are able to ex­pe­ri­ence the rit­ual in a safe and deeply spir­i­tual man­ner.

“You have to be care­ful and take good care, oth­er­wise the wound gets scep­tic,” said Lukholo Marhenene, 21, who has been nurs­ing ini­ti­ates for three years. “You must change the leaves of­ten and keep the wound clean and dry.

“Dur­ing the month I will be at­tend­ing to him, he stays in the hut. Only his fa­ther and other boys who have al­ready gone through initiation are al­lowed to visit. Af­ter two weeks, we slaugh­ter a goat to ap­pease the spir­its.” – AFP

PIC­TURES: MUJAHID SAFODIEN

WAIT­ING TO HEAL: Fezikhaya Tse­lane wait­ing for the heal­ing process to take ef­fect af­ter his painful circumcision.

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