A senseless tradition?

I found this article on news24.com, a South African news provider and thought that it was interesting coming from mouth of a Xhosa man.

A senseless tradition?
by Xhosa Guy
2010-06-24 13:23

Over 30 young initiates have died due to illegal and ill-run circumcision schools in the Eastern Cape. This isn’t a new thing. This is actually becoming a norm come every winter as the long-standing Xhosa tradition is seeing itself at cross-roads with many questioning its very existence.

For Xhosa people it is a rite of passage that every young man should embark on to see himself progress in society. The tradition was supposed to be a time when a young men is taught how to be a responsible member of society, how to grow from being a boy to being a man.

I happen to be a Xhosa man and went through the very thing and it was amazing for me. I went through the process after finishing my Matric exams having just turned 18 in the summer of 1997. Then the incidents weren’t as prevalent as they seem to have become in the past decade.

That said, every time I read the headlines – and progressively more and unwarranted each year – it just seems like nothing is being done to curb the rise in deaths of young boys due to this tradition. These deaths have made circumcision into a barbaric tradition that fails to protect the very people it supposedly wants to make better.

By now I would have thought that people would get the idea that sending a 13-year-old to these schools is to say the least dumb. I would have thought that the Xhosa-speaking community for whom this is an important tradition, would seek a way to see the preservation of this tradition by ensuring proper engagement from the Eastern Cape government in making certain schools of this nature adhere to the best health standards and that a relevant initiation school going age is set at an age where a young boy is of legal age to consent to the practice himself.

These deaths are senseless; these boys are not dying for some great cause. What does a 13-year old know about being a responsible citizen anyway? I know I didn’t!

What has transpired in the last decade has made this tradition nothing more than a senseless, over-glorified process that has lost all its meaning and values to the people it supposedly is of importance to.

We always say culture is supposed to evolve, where does this leave tradition and customs of a people that put so much pride and value on, despite their outdated methods?

I am not suggesting that the tradition needs to be scrapped, but an intervention needs to happen soon, to ensure this tradition does not go down in history as one of the causes for people to view African traditions as barbaric and to do that, we need to change the way we do things.

Allow room for change, look at what isn’t working and make sure we do not constantly repeat the mistakes over and over again. I mean, what’s so complicated about that?


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