Call to end summer initiation

Less deaths reported in winter, forum chair says

Chris Hani Initiation Forum chairperson Chief Xolela Mbali believes doing away with the summer season would result in less deaths. Seven initiates died this summer season.

Presenting the end of the summer season district report, Mbali said: “I will not accept the loss of this many initiates in summer when there were zero deaths in four consecutive winters.” Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality and Emalahleni reported two deaths each, and Ngcobo, Inxuba Yethemba and Sakhisizwe had one each.

Two traditional nurses died after they were burned in a hut at Whittlesea.

Suggestions were made for the initiation awareness campaign to be started in Cape Town, because the majority of initiates  who died were from there.

“Out of the seven initiates who died, five came from Cape Town, and out of the five, four were graduates,” Mbali said.

initiates were also said to have developed the habit of not drinking water and ate apples as a substitute, which lead to dehydration, he said.

Mbali was disappointed at the poor attendance of traditional leaders at the district report meeting, which he believed was crucial.

“The same happened last year when the provincial house of traditional leaders chairperson, chief Mwelo Nonkonyane, organised a meeting for traditional leaders to discuss customary initiation matters.

“Only five came,” Mbali said.

The chairs of the various municipal initiation forums also complained about the lack of visibility of traditional leaders during the summer season.

They said traditional leaders no longer showed initiative in the circumcision custom, which was under their jurisdiction.

“I commend Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality councillors who were more active, and the police were visible,” Mbali said.

“The roads in Enoch Mgijima were graded for us to reach initiates after a long battle with the municipality.”

He asked why youth organisations did not show any interest in the traditional custom of circumcision.

Ngcobo had the highest number of initiates , with some even having to camp in caves.

Other incidents reported included initiates drinking liquor and smoking marijuana in their huts.

A call was made for initiate huts to be located in areas where they would be accessible to cars in case of emergency, and for sites to be considered in towns, where initiaties could be situated together.

On a lighter note, it was noted that one of Enoch Mgijima’s initiates  was a white Norwegian man whose father is black.

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