By: Khethukuthula Lembethe
The custom of circumcision is one practiced by many people all over the world; commonly known as the “initiation school,” it is dominant in the Xhosa culture is South Africa.
The origination of male circumcision is not known with certainty. It has been said that it began as a religious sacrifice, as a rite of passage marking a boy’s entrance into adulthood.
In the recent past years, there have been cases of issues concerning health that in some cases resulted in death.
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, told Eye Witness News that the practice of illegal circumcisions has become a growing problem across the country. Over 50 teens have died countrywide since the start of the initiation season in June.
South African men have different reasons for going through the circumcision process, Njabulo Msomi a Zulu man, got circumcised after attending an AIDS awareness campaign which unpacked the advantages of male circumcision for him, “In this situation I was not forced by culture it was my choice, I did it for personal hygiene.”
“I did for hygiene reasons but more for pleasure, even though it is part of my culture, it was a personal reason,” says Lefedisa Moshesha a proud Sotho man. Moshesha further explains that he didn’t want to be treated like a boy by other men.
There is a great group of men who disagree with the circumcision process; they see it as damaging and as well as dangerous.
Akona Matyila is a Xhosa man who chooses not to conform to the Xhosa custom of circumcision, “circumcision took away my friend, on the mountain they were not allowed to drink water for the first week so the wound heals better, but that lead to him dying from dehydration,” Matyila explains. He is circumcised medically because he agrees with circumcision but doesn’t agree with the stigma that comes with not going to the mountain. “Someone like me is not considered a man.”
Many men do it for health reasons, to protect themselves and decrease their chances of getting sexually transmitted diseases and even HIV, but is going to the mountain the healthiest route. Matyile thinks traditional circumcision should be regulated, there should be medical training involved to ensure procedures.
Becoming a man comes with a cost for some cultures; it may even cost you your life. South African men are aware of the health issues surrounding circumcision and it’s up to them to decide which route well suites them disregarding stigmas that may come with it.