Thu Oct 27 09:09:52 CAT 2016

We can't carry on harmful practices in the name of culture

By Andile Mngxitama | Jul 05, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

IT'S that time of mass killing of boys in the name of a myth called manhood.

Already this season more than 50 boys are said to have died from botched circumcisions.

No one should die from the removal of a piece of skin. It's an indictment of our nation that such predictable suffering is allowed to occur every year.

Why do we send our young men to the mountains to make them men?

Thando Mgqolozana has written a powerful novel called A Man Who is not a Man.

This novel takes us through the terror and horror of botched circumcision. It tells the tale of a cultural practice that has lost its usefulness.

The novel needs to be read by all South Africans, especially those who continue to practice ulwaluko.

Hopefully someone in government will see the value of putting money into translating the book into our languages and getting someone like Mgqolozana to lead dialogues at village level so that some sense can prevail.

For a week on my facebook wall we discussed the implications of ulwaluko.

Those people who defended the practice have failed dismally to answer two simple questions.

What is a man and what is manhood? The children are being butchered and killed in the name of a myth called manhood.

How does manhood serve the interest of black people who remain poor, landless, divided and victims of racism? In Western Cape the powerlessness of blacks is expressed not only in the open-air toilets, but the plastic huts our initiates use in the passage to so-called manhood. We have lost even the ownership of our grass.

Ulwaluko is indefensible, just like other backward and barbaric practices such as ukuthwala.

Ulwaluko gives powerless men a false sense of importance.

It created masculinities of subjugation because all black people in front of whiteness are boys and girls! All answer ja baas to the impatient call from our white counterparts.

The initiate who is driven to delirium by pain imagines that something special has happened to them. Survival is key to externalising the myth of manhood.

Those who don't survive or come out scared are men who are not men to borrow from the novel.

We discard them. The dead we bury, those we maim we forget while alive, pretending nothing happened to them. Silence is part of the conspiracy of death. And we wonder why our men are so violent.

It is the height of slave mentality and stupidity to carry on practices that go against value systems of life and equality, because "it's our culture". Manhood as currently constructed is about patriarchy.

It's about justifying the differential treatment men enjoy over women.

It's about who can get into the kraal and make decisions. Manhood is not consistent with rational thought or equality.

It must be said that even if no one died from the practice the same question of what is manhood would be as important.

We need new values and identities of who we must be. We can't carry on harmful practices in the name of culture. Culture must serve us or cease to exist. Ulwaluko must be abolished!


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