One of the most fun stages of learning about Southern African 'culture' is the point where circumcision is explained. It's always done in a humorous manner, and I can see why. The spectacle of a bunch of young men wearing blankets in a field next to the main road in preparation for a brutally painfully and unnecessary piece of "surgery" is comical in a cruel sort of way.
The pain must be excruciating. I've been reliably informed that the trimmed member cannot be used for its intended purpose for a few months afterwards, and this sounds like a good thing to me. The idea of South Africa's finest young males being unable to procreate for a given time is a blessing to the whole country, particularly to anyone who has a daughter.
One would think that the sheer discomfort involved would give the sufferer a newfound respect for the aforesaid member, perhaps teaching him the wisdom of using it only at appropriate times. Sadly, this lesson is neither taught nor learnt, and the young men continue to impregnate with glee.
I cannot summon sympathy for the victims - and I have tried. It's probably because the story below caused me to envision myself in the position of one of the hapless initiates who "had to be rushed to hospital with mutilated penises, which had to be amputated to save their lives."
My response: Doctor, just shoot me!
The minister of traditional affairs was considering the regulation of initiation schools after reports of many boys dying from being circumcised at illegal initiation schools.
"The department has also submitted a policy paper on the traditional practice of initiation which seeks to introduce the accountability of traditional leaders for this practice, as well as look into the general management of initiation schools and the criminalisation and harsh sentencing for those found to be running illegal initiation schools," Minister Sicelo Shiceka said in a statement.
City Press reported on Sunday that dozens of young Xhosa initiates were dying in the Eastern Cape bush because of illegal initiation practices. Many survivors had to be rushed to hospital with mutilated penises, which had to be amputated to save their lives.
Shiceka said he was still considering the paper on the regulation of the practice.
"The deaths are totally unnecessary. Parents need to talk to their children more about the serious risks they subject themselves to when they go to these illegal initiation schools, in the name of a long honoured cultural practice," said Shiceka.
"The police also must be even stronger in acting against those who bring this cultural practice into disrepute through greed and a complete disregard for tradition, resulting in the horrific deaths and maiming of our young people."
He said if anyone was found to be running an initiation school without authorisation, police should arrest them immediately.
"Our young people should be encouraged to only attend legal and reputable initiation schools that have the blessings of local traditional leaders, government and their parents," he said. - Sapa