Love our tra­di­tion, value our youth

Vuk'uzenzele - - Health -

The Depart­ment of Co­op­er­a­tive Gov­er­nance and Tra­di­tional Af­fairs (COGTA) has urged par­ents to be­come more in­volved in the ini­ti­a­tion process. The depart­ment has launched a Zero Deaths cam­paign, and urges com­mu­ni­ties to be guided by the theme “We Love Our Tra­di­tion, We Value Life of Our Youth”.

Even as com­mu­ni­ties pre­pare chil­dren for this sa­cred cul­tural path, COGTA has re­minded par­ents that they are re­spon­si­ble for their chil­dren’s health. They must not give this re­spon­si­bil­ity to oth­ers.

COGTA Deputy Min­is­ter Obed Bapela has as­sured par­ents that the gov­ern­ment is work­ing to keep their chil­dren safe. Stake­hold­ers will be mak­ing ran­dom vis­its to crack down on il­le­gal ini­ti­a­tion schools.

“Re­mem­ber, ini­ti­a­tion is a so­ci­etal is­sue and all prob­lems em­a­nat­ing from it, are also so­ci­etal prob­lems,” the Deputy Min­is­ter said. “It takes com­mu­ni­ties to raise re­spon­si­ble young men who can con­trib­ute pos­i­tively to the fu­ture of our coun­try.”

Ini­ti­a­tion guide­lines for par­ents

The Depart­ment of Co­op­er­a­tive Gov­er­nance and Tra­di­tional Af­fairs has re­leased guide­lines for par­ents and guardians as part of its Zero Deaths cam­paign this ini­ti­a­tion sea­son. • Make sure that your chil­dren are ex­am­ined by a med­i­cal pro­fes­sional be­fore ini­ti­a­tion. Young men must go through the pre-ini­ti­a­tion med­i­cal screen­ing process.

• Make sure that your chil­dren are psy­cho­log­i­cally ready for ini­ti­a­tion.

• Only use le­gal, reg­is­tered ini­ti­a­tion schools. • Make sure that the tra­di­tional sur­geons are

reg­is­tered.

• Ini­ti­ates must drink wa­ter to avoid de­hy­dra­tion.

• Par­ents must have med­i­cally trained per­son­nel ready for any in­ter­ven­tion re­quired. • Par­ents and com­mu­ni­ties must re­port il­le­gal or un­reg­is­tered ini­ti­a­tion schools to the au­thor­i­ties.

Ini­ti­a­tion fast facts

• In Xhosa cul­ture, the June full moon her­alds the be­gin­ning of the New Year, which is also when the ini­ti­a­tion sea­son be­gins.

• In 2014 the Depart­ment of Health bud­geted R180 mil­lion to sup­port safe cir­cum­ci­sions at ini­ti­a­tion schools. Doc­tors cho­sen by tra­di­tional lead­ers as­sisted with pre-cir­cum­ci­sion screen­ing, cir­cum­ci­sion and af­ter-care.

• Gov­ern­ment pol­icy re­quires ini­ti­ates be at least 16 years old, must ob­tain writ­ten per­mis­sion from a par­ent or guardian, and must have a med­i­cal cer­tifi­cate of good health be­fore at­tend­ing ini­ti­a­tion schools reg­is­tered with a lo­cal chief or mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

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