SA’s circumcision ritual: a dangerous route to manhood
It’s the right thing to do for young Xhosa men, but there are concerns
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
WAITING TO HEAL: Fezikhaya Tselane waiting for the healing process to take effect after his painful circumcision.