THE acting secretary of the Eastern Cape House of Traditional and Khoi-San leaders, Vuyo Stofile, has called on all involved in the summer initiation season, including initiation schools, parents, health workers, NGO partners and others, to work together to ensure that this season takes place safely, without putting the health and lives of young men at risk.
The Eastern Cape summer initiation season commenced recently and approximately 40 000 young men are expected to undergo customary male initiation (CMI) this year. The early opening of the summer season is meant to cater for boys who are not in school as per the provisions of section 27(4) of the Customary Initiation Act. The school-going boys are expected to first finish their school exams before they can undergo the rite of passage to manhood.
“This is a sacred and serious time for young men and they deserve to go through initiation safely and without fear. We want them to emerge from this important process as healthy men who are ready to become responsible, successful adults,” Stofile said.
Reasons for death rates
“We established that there are six main reasons for initiation death rates in the Eastern Cape. These include: illegal schools, pre-existing medical conditions, dehydration which is based on a myth that if you do not drink your circumcision wound will heal faster, increased drug and alcohol use by initiates, traditional surgeons and nurses at initiation schools, poor and unhygienic conditions and the spread of HIV and viral hepatitis,” Stofile added.
Interventions to prevent issues
To address and prevent these issues, the Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders has instituted important interventions that parents, teachers, community leaders are requested to implement:
. A health screening for initiates before they proceed to initiation schools which allows for any potential health issues including COVID-19, to be picked up and dealt with
. Education about the types of emergency support available to all initiates in case there are any adverse outcomes.
Stofile further added that district initiation forums visit initiation schools to establish whether the CMI Act is being adhered to.
“They also investigate that culturally appropriate medical staff, who ensure that on-site and post-initiation checks are present. We ask that the community report illegal schools and anything that may be threatening the safety of the initiates.
“We are also working with SAPS, the Department of Social Development, and trusted NGO partners to improve the safety of the initiation process. Together with our NGO partners, we are ensuring that customary male initiation is performed in a manner that does not contaminate our culture or tradition.”
– ISSUED BY EASTERN CAPE HOUSE OF TRADITIONAL AND KHOI-SAN LEADERS