'No excuse for the death of innocent Africans in the name of culture'

27 December 2019 - 10:53
By Kgaugelo Masweneng
Initiates in the Eastern Cape.
Image: Supplied Initiates in the Eastern Cape.

An organisation known as the Takuwani Riime Men’s Movement is calling on society to take an uncompromising stand to put an end to the deaths of innocent initiates in the name of culture.

The organisation, which is affiliated to the SA National Aids Council (Sanac), said it supports the Cultural‚ Religious and Linguistic (CRL) Rights Commission on the immediate suspension of the initiation season in all the affected regions in South Africa until all measures in place are satisfied that no more lives will be lost.

“The reported deaths of initiates at initiation sites in the current initiation season serve as the final straw to the continuous neglectful approach seen through the loss of lives over the previous years,” said national chairperson Ntando Yola.

"The proud heritage of an age-old African practice is being systematically undermined by the continuing loss of African males’ lives.

"This is particularly disheartening in a day and age where there are readily available modern technologies and approaches that allow for safe circumcisions with minimal adverse events, let alone deaths."

Yola said although issues surrounding culture and tradition remain sensitive, the avoidable "deaths of innocent Africans" could not be allowed to continue.

"A life gone cannot be reversed. Instead it affects further the lives of families - often the mothers of initiates and women, who continue to bear the scars of losing a life in the form of their sons.

"There is no excuse or justification for the death of innocent Africans in the name of shutting out voices to preserve a cultural practice when lives are lost."

Yola added that the initiation rite should be about preserving lives and celebrating the healthy transition of boys to manhood in order for all to benefit from what they can contribute to society.