King speaks out

Over the last decade, there has been an alarming spate of deaths among young initiates ­undergoing the traditional rite of circumcision.

Every year, we ­react with ­desperation and ­surprise – as if we are unaware of this continuing loss of life that ­affects the young men of our province and in particular, the people of ­Pondoland.

Firstly, it is important to put an end to the speculation and ­deliberate confusion that this practice is neither the culture nor tradition of the ­Pondo people, thus seeking to justify the deaths by ­claiming this rite of passage is foreign to the ­Pondo people.

In any community and society, traditions and ­culture are ­protected and ­overseen by ­traditional leaders as custodians of that culture and ­tradition.

These traditional leaders and their families ought to guide and be exemplary in such practices.

The king of a nation is the ­supreme custodian of all ­tradition and cultural practices that ought to be followed by the people of such a ­nation.

The royal palace is home to the wealth of knowledge and history that should serve as a guide as to how traditional and customary rites and ceremonies should be ­conducted.

It is no secret that the reigning king of Amampondo, King ­Ndamase Ndamase (Ndlovuyezwe) underwent the rite himself.

King Ndamase has been very vocal in his criticism of the ­manner in which traditional leaders, parents and communities have absolved themselves of their responsibilities in how this custom ought to be practised.

It is neither the responsibility of the MEC of health, the health ­department nor the ­police to oversee circumcision and ­initiation schools.

Young men in circumcision schools are neither patients nor criminals but a group of boys whom responsible communities should be caring for.

However, it would be incorrect to criticise what has become ­necessary interference by these institutions, given that those who ought to be taking the ­necessary responsibility have ­either ­distanced themselves from this problem or have, to some extent, become part of it.

There is one issue that should preoccupy all of us at this stage and that is how to save the lives of the children affected and who should be responsible, and on whose terms, for the many who have died from botched ­circumcisions.

Our traditional leaders and government must now refrain from politicising circumcision and begin making the necessary decisions to get those who have the ultimate responsibility over tradition and custom to play their part.

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