The call by women to become more involved in the male Xhosa initiation process has met stern opposition by traditional leaders in the Eastern Cape. The House of Traditional Leaders in the Eastern Cape debated the call at a full sitting.

It ruled that women must refrain from interfering in the initiation process.

The women’s caucus in the House of Traditional Leaders made the call to be more involved in the initiation of their sons. They accuse the men of negligence.

Women want to be involved in Ulwaluko – an ancient custom presided over by men. The women are tired of burying their sons.

Since 2012, an estimated 400 boys have died while undergoing initiation.

Chief Nokwandisa Kama, member of the Women’s Caucus: House of Traditional Leaders, says men need to be more vigilant because the deaths occur under their noses while women are not allowed in.

But men in the house say they will never agree to women being involved in initiation.

House of Traditional Leaders Chairperson, Mwelo Nonkonyane says women must take a step back as they will never allow them to be involved in the process as it will violate tradition.

“In no way, will we ever agree that they must be in the forefront and administer because there are secrets that are known by circumcised men in terms of our tradition. To open it up it will be something that we will never ever support. I am sure the ancestors will never be proud of us if we are going to agree.”

The women’s caucus say it is not calling for women to be traditional surgeons and nurses yet, but they are more than willing to step up if men are failing to make sure that this ancient custom and the initiates are protected. – Additional reporting by Abongile Dumako.