Western Cape Government Helps Make Male Initiation Safer
The Western Cape Government is committed to working with communities to improve the safety of traditional male initiation in the province. This was the key message at a consultative workshop on initiation in Cape Town on Thursday, 30 May 2013.
The workshop was attended by representatives of Western Cape Government, various community structures and experts in the field. Members of the amaHlubi, abeSotho and amaXhosa communities in the Western Cape practice this rite of passage to signify the transition from boyhood (ubukhwenkwe) to manhood (ubudoda).
The Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS) presented its initiation framework and protocol, and the provincial Department of Health (DOH) did a presentation on male medical circumcision (MMC). The links between MMC and traditional initiation practice were explored and a case study was presented on an initiation safety project currently under way in the Eden District.
DCAS Director of Arts, Culture and Language, Ms Jane Moleleki, said initiation is a cultural issue with health implications. “We want to continue to work together with caregivers and custodians to create an enabling environment for safe rites of passage in the Western Cape,” she said.
Mr Gilboni Matiso of the provincial DOH said that medical male circumcision is recommended by the World Health Organization as part of an effective HIV prevention strategy. This procedure is available for free at about 30 health sites across the province.
Last year, DCAS and DOH collaborated with CapeNature and community-based initiation structures to launch the new Driftsands initiation site. The intention is to provide a safe and secure environment for initiation in the greater Cape Town area.
At the end of the workshop, community representatives formed an executive committee to consider and respond to ongoing government initiatives to make initiation safer. The new approach will potentially make the Western Cape a place where the initiation season remains an exciting, joyous celebration of mature masculinity, better together.
The Western Cape Government invested in a collective approach to make the journey from childhood to adulthood safer and healthier for young people.