Men, parents must protect initiates
Ever heard of the phrase Groundhog Day, or perhaps you are more familiar with deja vu?
Groundhog Day means “a situation in which events that happened before happen again, in what seems exactly the same way”.
Deja vu means “a feeling of having already experienced the present situation”.
When I read a report in The Rep last Friday of the Chris Hani District Initiation Forum which on Thursday announced their readiness for the summer initiation season – it felt like we’ve been here before.
The forum emphasised the same old things it warns people against.
Things like boys not being taken for medical examinations before they go to the bush, shoddy structures where the boys live for the duration of their stay in the bush and the everpresent problem of illegal schools manned by fly-by-night ingcibi
(traditional surgeons) and inexperienced and unlicenced Khankatha (traditional nurses).
They also highlighted the major concern, the summer heat that leads to dehydration and hospitalisation, or in extreme cases, death.
To its credit though, the forum also announced there were zero deaths during the winter initiation season, which is very encouraging and must continue.
As you might have noticed from what I have spoken about and what the forum outlined in The Rep article – most of the initiatives they announced were from their side and the various government departments, and not a lot was said about what role the main role players – the parents and families of the inititiates – should play.
This is because it should be a given – male members of the initiate’s family should be taking the lead in this and making sure their son is taken care of and comes back whole and alive.
This I am afraid is where many of the problems arise.
As the traditional family structures become more and more disrupted, confusion and chaos tends to reign and people either do not know what their roles are or they do, but because of broken relationships they neglect them or absence of the family figurehead leads to lack of proper direction and order.
These days it is not uncommon to have a 30-something single woman having to take her 18-year-old son to the bush. But because she is single and maybe has no close family
As the traditional family structures become more and more disrupted, confusion and chaos tend to reign and people either do not know what their roles are, or they do, but because of broken relationships they neglect them’
around or close male friends who have their heads screwed straight, she might find herself overwhelmed and taking the boy to illegal schools or allowing an under-age boy to go to the bush, with disastrous results.
These parents are prone to being scammed by unscrupulous practitioners, leading to the many disasters we hear about.
We have to talk about the drastically changed family structures and the absence of male and responsible figures around the boys.
This tradition is very much maledominated, as it should be, so the limited role of a mother with no reliable male support can lead to problems, through no fault of theirs.
Amadoda should step up and make themselves available to help and guide these mothers to safeguard the boys and keep the tradition alive and safe. Men are the custodians of this tradition and dare not shirk their responsibility.