Preparing for ritual circumcision costs

2013-09-30 08:00

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Nguni people, AmaXhosa in particular, have a custom of circumcision. This is a rite of passage from boyhood to manhood. It is a stage where a boy attains majority.

If the boy in question only gets circumcised at the age of 50, it is only then that he attains majority. Until he has been circumcised, he is a minor.

Only after circumcision, can he get married or approach a local chief to acquire land where he can set up his own home.

A boy is prohibited from getting married in Nguni customary law. He has no right to own land to set up his home and he does not have access to arable land.

So circumcision, or umgidi, is an important part of raising a son and, like his education, one must be financially prepared to provide for it.

This transition is very expensive to perform.

When a boy is taken through this passage, he must have new clothes and blankets, bedding, dishes, a number of sheep, and ox and goats must be slaughtered.

The cost can range from anywhere between R50?000 and R100?000.

One should take out an investment when a boy child is born. This investment should be aimed at paying for the tertiary education of the boy child and include a further saving of about R200 a month, which will be used for umgidi. The boy child should know that the father, mother or guardian has these measures in place.

The child should be prepared not only financially, but emotionally, and be taught about the perils of life, such as peer pressure and undue influence from friends relating to circumcision.

Boys must be taught about the importance of life and the risk of losing one’s life, should he go for circumcision illegally. The boy child must wait until he is 18 years of age and until the savings put aside have accrued enough funds to carry out this key transition.

Parents must agree to the circumcision and give their consent.

A parent should always have the interests of the child at heart. As parents, we must provide for their education and for umgidi. These things go hand in hand.

A proper financial plan will help you to achieve your goals and give your child a bright future. .

» Ngxumza is a Cape Town-based independent financial adviser specialising in Nguni Law

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