Choosing which way to go about circumcision does not have to be based on influence, but truth!

2013-06-20 10:33

I grew up in a Pedi rural place in Limpopo Ga-Matlala where most of our youth was spent herding cattle at outposts with peers. For those of us who did not have to do the former we would wait until the afternoon for the arrival of the herds-boys to play soccer in our rural dusty fields. If the herd-boys did not arrive early it would mean staying in-doors and boredom for those of us who did not have any animals to herd.

The number of those who were herding was more than that of those who were not, and this would sometimes mean playing soccer and all other games in the field whilst herding. The cattle will be put in one side of the field while the other side is used for all sorts of entertainment. For those at home this would mean having no choice, but to help with house chores and a lot of forced studying afterwards.

Some of us however found ourselves having to duck this forced studying to join our peers in the fields because this was the only way of entertainment to us. Most of the families did not even have television sets back then; therefore being with the boys afterschool provided that need for escapism.

Some families however did not appreciate this. They would have preferred their young boys to stay home after-school, help with whatever chores and then study before sleep. Saturday afternoon was the only time allocated for a hang out with friends, and Sunday was for church. This is the culture they have had to inculcate not only because they were of value to them, but most importantly because of the enormous influence peers tend to have amongst one another.

This we obviously did not agree with as young boys. We thought our parents were being very strict. We thought they should let us grow the way we wanted to. But as a kid growing up one starts noticing and realising the reasons why parents insists guiding us into a certain direction and we can only be fortunate if we realise this at an early age.

It soon emerged that at these fields some were influenced and forced against their will and that of their parents to join initiation schools for circumcision. It must be borne in mind that at this time circumcision was predominantly a matter of community or family tradition. Male circumcision being the removal of the foreskin on the man’s private organ is even today seen as a common practice and an important cultural practice among not only Pedis, but Tsongas, the Xhosas and other cultures. It is seen as a right of passage to manhood.

But do we still need traditional schools to undergo circumcision today?

Year in and year out the future of this world is lost through our traditional initiation schools and yet we continue protecting these schools. How much communication do we need to get the message across? Circumcision cannot be about culture anymore, but health benefits. Going to the mountains has never in my opinion been a way to prove that one is man enough; you do not need to go to the mountains to be crowned a man. That is just stupid....it does not make sense to me. We have got a number of Men’s clinics and hospitals today to undergo this treatment.

We cannot afford to stand before others today and claim not to have been taught about the safest way to circumcision. The fact that we lose lives every year should be appalling enough to encourage us to seek information.

The problem is that our community leaders see this as a way of making money to feed their own families. Is it therefore that poverty may be one of the reasons these traditional schools still see the light of the day today? Or probably these leaders just do not care about the loss of lives, because they know even when there is a lot of noise around the deaths at these traditional schools, it is never for long; it continues to be life as usual.

It is even demeaning when people are taken by force to these schools! The situation that happened in Limpopo, Ga-Sekhukhune taxi rank this previous week where some of the taxi drivers were abducted to the mountains says a lot about the stigma that is still attached to the whole traditional way of going about circumcision. Amongst other influential reasons however, one can also think of one; that the business is starting to feel the pinch and forcing or abducting people is the only way they thought they should go about it. But what happens to those who abduct others to these schools? What happens to them when those they abducted do not make it back home like the majority we lost throughout the years?

What people fail to understand or realise is that culture is not static. It evolves and when it does it will call for changes in the way we do things. We therefore should not go against it, but learn to adapt with the time.

Instead of searching for reasons why the loss every year, let us rather adapt to the new way of doing things. If we were indeed to get the real reasons behind the cause of these deaths that could be addressed, we could have won this fight a long time ago.

In-fact the real reason behind the cause of the loss of lives at these traditional initiation schools is one: It proves to be a failure every year it can no longer be a way to go about conducting circumcision and the answer is to get the government close down these schools and opt the western way.

There I said it “the western way”. People are so mad with the term the western way that they are so blinded to see what works and what does not. Wait, are we probably refusing to go the Clinic or Hospital way just because we know it is not the African way of doing it? How moronic if that is the case!

If we continue being stuck in these cultural beliefs about circumcision, we will for real continue suffering the loss of the future of this world. Our innocent young lives will continue perishing into thin air before our own eyes. Is this what we want? Surely Not!

Now I fully understand why some parents insisted on inculcating different value system into their children’s lives from a very young age. These children have grown to be the men of honour in their families today. They are leaders and an inspiration to a whole lot of people in their fields. This they have managed to achieve without having gone through the former mentioned schools to acquire man-hood; the sound of this does not even make sense.

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