Tool to end the death of initiates

CityPress - - Voices -

On th­ese pages we bring you the tragic sto­ries of two young men from the Eastern Cape who were maimed for life af­ter un­der­go­ing tra­di­tional cir­cum­ci­sion.

Solomzi Bodoza had to have his leg am­pu­tated af­ter he was se­verely beaten and al­most burnt alive at a fam­ily-run ini­ti­a­tion school. The other, whom we call Khaya be­cause not even his mother knows what hap­pened to him, was so badly abused and ne­glected at an ini­ti­a­tion school that his pe­nis rot­ted and fell off.

Last year, 75 young men lost their lives, 20 had their penises am­pu­tated and 687 were hos­pi­talised – mostly ow­ing to un­reg­is­tered or bo­gus tra­di­tional sur­geons and nurses. So far this year, 18 young men have died, four had their penises am­pu­tated and 293 were sent to hos­pi­tal.

The fig­ures over the past 10 years show how enor­mous the prob­lem is: 646 young men have lost their lives and 259 have lost their man­hood.

The Eastern Cape gov­ern­ment launched the province’s sum­mer ini­ti­a­tion sea­son in Queen­stown on Fri­day, and the sit­u­a­tion could be­come worse – if we let it.

This week, City Press – in part­ner­ship with Code for Africa, Open Data Dur­ban and Daily Sun – launches an on­line tool for par­ents and initiates to use to check whether the tra­di­tional sur­geons they have cho­sen have been reg­is­tered and trained by the Eastern Cape depart­ment of health. City Press gath­ered the data of all reg­is­tered tra­di­tional sur­geons and nurses in all the province’s dis­tricts. How­ever, wide­spread non­com­pli­ance with the reg­is­tra­tion re­quire­ments means that there are only 200 names or so on the data­base. There are many more times that num­ber of in­g­cibi oper­at­ing in the province, with mixed re­sults.

City Press’ tool can also be used to re­port il­le­gal tra­di­tional sur­geons and ini­ti­a­tion schools, as well as to re­port initiates ex­pe­ri­enc­ing dif­fi­cul­ties. The tool will be ex­panded in fu­ture to in­clude reg­is­tered tra­di­tional sur­geons in other prov­inces.

It is up to pro­vin­cial au­thor­i­ties to work to­gether with the house of tra­di­tional lead­ers and the amakhosi to en­sure that those pre­sid­ing over ini­ti­a­tion schools are skilled enough to per­form their im­por­tant work.

Tales of hor­ror such as those on our pages de­tract from the spir­i­tual na­ture of the rite of pas­sage Xhosa boys go through to be­come men. We can no longer al­low mourn­ing to re­place what should be a cel­e­bra­tion of our cul­ture.

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