This year’s traditional manhood initiation season, has seen shocking numbers of deaths as a result of botched circumcisions. But what’s new? This is almost like an arranged annual massacre whose victims are naive but proud volunteers driven by dim societal pressures. For an epidemic as hostile as this one, you would expect a lot of education around it, but still some matters related to it are treated like a top state secret.
We all know that through initiation, boys are supposed to be taught good principles of manhood, but can we all agree that this objective is often met? I mean a lot of our criminals, runaway daddies and drug users are, in fact, men. That is not an official statistic, but I have seen them. I know they are men because they have missing foreskins. Not that I have seen their penises, but once in their lives they wore khakis and carried sticks wherever they went. This was after they had been gone for a few days to claim their manhood.
Call me deluded but my interpretation of a man is that of a Xhosa child brought up in a culture respecting household. However, the repercussions (if I can safely call it that) of this tradition – death and foul behaviour - are driving me up the wall! I am sick and tired of having to tip toe around the traditional circumcision ritual issue.
To this day, I am still in the dark as to what really goes on at initiation schools besides the actual circumcision. That is a result of my elders’ choice to keep mum about these details despite my tireless attempts to find out. Being the inquisitive creature that I am, I have never been comfortable with basing my knowledge solely on hearsay. So I have conducted a few informal interviews with some friends that have been through initiation but all they have been able to provide is limited information, which I can sum up as, well, stupid.
In the modern day, what really is the point of traditional manhood initiation? It definitely can’t still be a measly attempt to instil good morality in young men. We all know that takes years of good parenting, not a few days of lectures and getting one’s foreskin cut.
You see, we as humans, were not lucky enough to be blessed with a mind that complies from a single instruction. Unfortunately, losing a piece of our skin does not change our outlook to life either. Instead, it has a potential of killing us, as we have seen on the recent news reports.