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Families have a role in initiation

By Sapa | 2014-07-10 07:04:04.0 | COMMENTS [ 14 ]

Families and communities have a role to play in keeping initiates safe, Eastern Cape premier Phumulo Masualle said in Bhisho on Wednesday.

"It should be emphasised that whilst the practice of traditional initiation is not only the responsibility of government, rather a family and societal matter... we decided to intervene to save lives lost due to negligence, criminal elements and the commercialisation of the practice."

The provincial government's initiation school monitoring teams had noted that families and communities were not adequately involved in the initiation process.

There was insufficient co-ordination of activities aimed at making initiation schools safer, and the province had seen a "mushrooming" of illegal schools.

"As the leadership of the province, we are noting with concern that since the launch of the season, 24 young lives have been lost in the traditional rite of passage to mould boys into responsible men," Masualle said.

On Tuesday, the provincial health department however put the figure at 25. It could not immediately be reached for confirmation of the figure.

Government was pursuing a number of measures aimed at reducing initiate deaths. This included centralisation of initiation schools, under the care of trained traditional nurses, in areas most affected by initiate deaths.

Boys would be registered before undergoing initiation rites, and this would be monitored by the Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders.

"Government will soon be finalising the Traditional Initiation Bill which, amongst other things, seeks to put in place a regulatory framework to eliminate the commercialisation of the custom and illegal traditional initiation schools."

The bill would be finalised by the end of September, he said.


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I think this initiation thing has become obsolete given the era we now live in. Why do we have to waste more lives wen circumcision is free nowadays!!!

2014-07-10 07:08:47.0 | 2 replies


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2014-07-10 11:33:56.0 | 0 replies


A very enlightened view. My respect to you, Sir.

2014-07-10 12:43:48.0 | 0 replies


One assumes that the schools' roles are not merely for circumcision, but MAINLY to make the initiate aware of his tribal heritage. The actual circumcision, in my view, is simply a physical manifestation to indicate that the initiate has "been to the bush", and could rather be carried out in sanitary, controlled environments.

2014-07-10 07:18:58.0 | 0 replies


I think centralization of of initiation schools in the Pondoland would be a step in the right direction to curb the deaths. Based on my observation most of the deaths are caused by the treatment the boys are receiving at the hands of inexperienced dagga smoking caregivers. In most areas in the EC and WC there are people that are well known when it comes to taking care of the initiates and hence we do not hear of deaths in the initiation schools. I wouldn't advocate for the abolishment of this old age custom as it is merely not only about the removal of the foreskinn as some would like to believe.

2014-07-10 07:56:05.0 | 1 replies


Brotha! Even though I disagree with you(refer to my comment below) however I find it very interesting when you say there is more to initiation school than just the removal of foreskinn because I thought it was for health purposes. I really would kindly like you to enlighten me.

2014-07-10 09:39:56.0 | 0 replies


Their Parents muust be arrested for murder, why would you subject your boy to this type of school when hospitals are there

2014-07-10 08:46:16.0 | 0 replies


I strongly believe that this is part of our culture whereby we really must consider letting go of it and move on with the times, I mean even our local clinics do an extremely better job.

2014-07-10 09:28:35.0 | 1 replies


AN enlightened point of view. Respect.

2014-07-10 12:44:36.0 | 0 replies


bathi uyindoda wen u did it entabeni not eclinic

2014-07-10 09:56:31.0 | 0 replies


How ?!?!?!? A 12 year old boy is enticed to the 'school' and held for ransom - the police won't do anything, the tribal leader council won't do anything, the traditional healers council won't do anything, the ministry of culture won't do anything, the village elders are too scared to do anything ..... so HOW do the families have a role?

2014-07-10 10:02:26.0 | 0 replies


It will hekp these Xhosa/Mpondo/Mpondomise tribes to ask amaHlubi and BaSotho on the "Best Practices" and the laws that they follow as the Hlubis and Sothos dont have these csualities and they send Hundreds of boys entabeni each season. AmaHlubi are found in Tsolo/Maclear, Qumbu, Matatiele, Sterkspruit, Mt Flecther, Mount Frere etc and the follow this ritual through and through.

2014-07-10 11:16:16.0 | 1 replies


Actually, this is not an issue with Xhosas, at all, and there has never been deaths/casualties reported. Where you find this being a problem is in areas (AmaMpondo)where this practise had not been done before, including in the recent past - there is no institutional memory, and passing-on of skills/ expertise from one generation to the next. You find that ikhankatha (traditional surgeon) is a recent initiate (ikrwala), and the father of the boy has not gone through the practise - then disaster strikes.

2014-07-10 12:37:16.0 | 0 replies


Where families are involved this unfortunate situation of initiates death does not take place. It is also not just the Pondoland region that faces this kind of initiate's death. We are faced with a very difficult situation of where these young boys wishes to do as they please with the circumcision custom. They die because they do this without consultation with their parents, thus, they fell victims of the unskilled people whom are not authorised or known within their communities in performing this circumcision process.

2014-07-10 12:21:45.0 | 0 replies