Parents, traditional surgeons disappointed at exclusion of initiation under level two lockdown

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The initiation of boys into manhood, which is the cornerstone of some cultures of tribes such as the Xhosa, remains off-limits under the new regulations. This does not sit well with those who practise it. Parents and traditional surgeons say the boys, who are set to undergo the rite of passage, are anxious about the uncertainty.

The Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa announced the suspension of the winter initiation season when the coronavirus pandemic hit South Africa’s shores.

Every year, provinces such as the Eastern Cape have two initiation seasons, one in winter between June and July and the other during the December holidays. But this year, the coronavirus pandemic has brought unprecedented changes.

The government, supported by traditional leaders, decided to suspend the winter initiation season in order to prevent the spread of the virus at initiation schools.
New regulations under lockdown level two:



Peer pressure 
Parents are now worried that peer pressure might drive their children to the edge.

One of the parents, Ntobeko Gcolotela says, “We would be so happy if the government can agree with us so that we can give our children their rights because there is what we call the peer pressure, more especially at schools. Sometimes you will get that the boys sometimes commit suicide because of the peer pressure from other boys, I mean those who have been undergoing this circumcision. We wish that the government can agree with us so that these boys can do what they think is right.”

Contralesa provincial chairperson, Chief Mkhanyiseli Dudumayo, says traditional leaders want consultations with the government.

“We are calling on government to have some engagements with communities regarding this alert level because we are not given a guarantee that by December which alert level we will be on, which is normally a season that is known by the communities and people on the ground, are ready to take their children into initiation schools. Therefore, we will also appeal to the state to say let’s have an engagement, coming up with any measuring tools that will assist in dealing with the issue of health protocols and also social distancing measures.”

In the audio below, Contralesa disappointed that under lockdown level two initiation practises are still prohibited: 

A traditional surgeon, Malizo Mbunga believes the boys might resort to using illegal traditional surgeons due to peer pressure.

“We wish government can open the coming season. Our problem is the parents who are given pressure by the boys. The parents put pressure on us as well. We are also worried that peer pressure will also contribute. If we open next year, we will have a problem with a high number of boys from this year and those who will undergo circumcision next year, and we will have a huge problem.”
During the early days of the lockdown, a number of boys were rescued from illegal initiation schools.
In the video below, no initiation until further notice: