Safety initiative for initiates

President of the House of Senate, Nkululeko Dlongwana; Pastor Nicholas Tisama, representative of Langa Initiation Schools Monitor; Alfred Magwaca, chair of Joe Gqabi Philippi; Chief Tiya Gangata and Chairperson of Council of Nguni People, chief Lungelo Nokwaza were some of the delegates who led the discussion about initiation.

Traditional leaders, iingcibi and the custodians of traditional circumcision (ulwaluko) have vowed that no lives would be lost during this year’s initiation season.

They issued a strong warning to bogus iingcibi and reckless amakhankatha (initiates’ attendants) that they would come down hard on them.

They said they had implemented various strategies to prevent botched circumcision and senseless deaths of initiates.

This emerged when the Council of Nguni People, Langa Initiation Forum, House of Senate, the provincial Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (CONTRALESA), pastors and residents held an informative dialogue at KTC hall on Saturday November 4.

With the initiation season ready to kick into first gear, the engagement was aimed at addressing some of the underlying issues regarding ulwaluko and to advise parents not to be fooled by bogus surgeons.

The delegates argued that more interventions were needed to restore the image of the practice.

They accused the provincial government of turning a blind eye to their complaints and of failing to play its part in preserving and protecting the practice.

Chairperson of Council of Nguni People, chief Lungelo Nokwaza, said they wanted to assure parents that their boys would not die on the mountain and to advise them about proper steps that should be taken before sending their boys to the mountain.

Mr Nokwaza said older and experienced men needed to educate amakrwala (young men) and initiates about manhood and ulwaluko. He said the journey to manhood was about teaching boys about their role in society and not forgetting to be protectors and providers of their families.

Mr Nokwaza stressed that only boys who were 18 and above were eligible to go the mountain. He cautioned parents that they should not just pick and choose any man to be ikhankatha.

He advised women in particular not to be fooled into buying alcohol and cigarettes for initiates and highlighted their role during the initiation process. “We do not want to hear about young initiates dying in the bush.”

He told women about what kind of food the initiates needed to eat.

He said it was important for the first week after the boy had been sent to the initiation to be visited regularly by their fathers or any other male family member to monitor their progress.

“We need to engage with one another so that we can highlight problems and resolve them. This is our tradition and it’s our duty to protect it.

“We want our boys to come back as changed people who see life from a different perspective,” he said.

Langa Forum representative, Chisa Katangana, pleaded with the parents to inform iingcibi if their kids had any disease or illness.

He said parents needed to take their boys to the clinic for medical check-ups at least two months before they undergo the initiation.

He criticised the use of alcohol by the initiates.

Mr Katangana said the problem with today’s schools was that some people use the moment for revenge. He said they have trained and qualified amakhankatha who have been trained in first aid.

Parent Solomon France said as men they should step up and protect the tradition. He said greed and corruption turned the practice into a money-making one.

He said this tradition has lost its value, integrity and dignity. “This is our tradition and we need to revive it,” he said.

Ingcibi Sikelela Zokufa said they wanted bushes that would be zoned for this practice and secluded from the community, but their efforts had been fruitless.