Wednesday, 14 December 2022: Since the start of the summer initiation season, tragically already 10 initiates have passed away, primarily as a result of illegal initiation practices. Consequently, the Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders is calling on parents to take responsibility for their sons’ initiations.
Nkosi Gwadiso, the Chairperson of the Eastern Cape House of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders, says, “Parents should be actively involved in the choice of initiation school that their sons go to. They must ensure it is a legitimate school registered with the Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders. Their son must be medically screened prior to the procedure to establish if they are fit to undergo the initiation process.”
Initiation deaths are avoidable. As many as 99% of deaths occur in initiates that have not been properly screened for medical conditions. They die of pre-existing conditions like asthma or diabetes during the initiation. “Health screening is central to the safety of initiates. Parents need to ensure that their sons are screened by approved medical personnel prior to going for initiation,” says Nkosi Gwadiso.
A legal initiation school is one that is registered with the Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders and runs according to the Customary Male Initiation Act. This ensures that proper circumcision procedures are in place and the school meets certain criteria.
When the laws of the Act are followed, young initiates go through the rite of passage without any incident.
“Unfortunately, Illegal schools are being set up by unscrupulous people who want to make money from a sacred tradition that should be safe. The House of Traditional Leaders, parents and communities should please report illegal schools to safeguard the circumcision procedure, uphold the integrity of customary initiation and ensure the safety of young initiates,” says Nkosi Gwadiso.
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