Circumcision, it is a journey that many Xhosa boys have to go through in order to transition into ‘manhood’ and
annually, South Africans look forward to hearing about the horrors and deaths at some of the initiation schools.
From when I was a young boy growing up in the Eastern Cape, I always dreaded the day when I too would have to embark on that journey to manhood.
I was 18 when my father forced me to go, Lord knows I didn’t want to go but at least 18 was and is a reasonable age for the rite of passage.
The thing for me is I was happy with my foreskin, but it would seem the community around me had this fascination with MY foreskin.
Yes, the foreskin can be unsightly and unhygenic, but fact remains, it was MINE and mine alone.
I still fail to understand when and how was manhood determined by the lack of foreskin, to me it just seems absurd.
Right now over 20 deaths have been reported already at some of these initiation schools and I have this knot in my stomach as my younger brother is yet to return (he’s one of the initiates).
This takes me back to when I was initiated, June of 2006 and it seemed like the coldest winter in history. I knew I wasn’t checking into the Four Seasons hotel but the whole experience was like a nightmare coming to life.
It was myself, half brother and cousin,
The first horror for me was before we were ‘cut’, we had to go to the hospital for medical check-ups, but because my father wasn’t available on that day, our older cousins had to go in our place to get the medical check-ups as they would not need an adult to sign the consent form because they were already over the age of 21. Now tell me, how do you get a medical check-up without even being there?
Secondly when the actual act of chopping off the foreskin, they used the same bloody tool on all of us even though some of the young men including us had not undergone the medical check-up. That’s very dangerous and irresponsible if you ask me.
It was even worse for my half brother because he had gotten circumcised by a doctor a few years prior, but had to be circumcised for the second time with the rest of us, because they said we are all “twins” and whatever one is going through, the rest need to go through as well. As a result of that barbaric act on his penis, it took him longer to heal.
Don’t get me started on the beatings that were dished out like hand-outs at the salvation army, the horrible food and being deprived of drinking water.
With all the things that I have just mentioned, more and more young men still look forward to this rite of passage. Yes, the Department of Health and the police do get involved, but in most cases it’s usually too late.
Isn’t it time to let go of old customs and adopt new ones?
What is so wrong with getting the snip from a health facility?
Because at this point going to the mountains is like being part of the Survivor series, whereby anyone can be voted out at any point, only this time the voting out process could mean death or the loss of manhood.
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