Tag Archives: circumcision

Becoming a man…and losing something on the way

By Olga Bialostocka As South Africa celebrates the first, successful penis transplant in the world, with much-deserved public awe, the question we should ask is why there’s a demand for this sort of specialist treatment. The results of the medical efforts of Stellenbosch University surgeons should be praised but the reasons why young men lose…

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Pallo Jordan’s exit: Cutting off our thingamajigs to spite our watchamacallits

Pallo Jordan’s political self-immolation is tragic. To lose him from Parliament and the ANC’s influential national executive committee, following his exposure by the Sunday Times as lying about his academic qualifications, is a blow for the country. The conventions of political honour – an oxymoron if there ever was one – demand an abject apology…

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What good is tradition if we lose a penis?

Recently a young man lost his penis. The member in question was lost during an initiation ritual and when he attempted to ask the elders what to do about it (raising the matter in a public forum) he allegedly received a beating. The reason he got this beating? Because by speaking out the initiate was…

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Urban circumcision, it’s not a bad thing

By Phozisa Mkele Every year there are fatalities of young boys in illegal initiation schools. This traditional practice is treated by some as a money-making scheme. With deaths and botched circumcisions on the rise, parents are opting for other alternatives. One such option that has become common in urban areas is having the circumcision undertaken…

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Deadly circumcision and initiation practices should be outlawed

Nelson Mandela in his autobiography The Long Walk to Freedom recounts his childhood experience during this rite of passage from boyhood to manhood. He writes: “When I was sixteen, the regent decided that it was time that I became a man. In Xhosa tradition, this is achieved through one means only: circumcision. In my tradition,…

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Masculinity under siege?

Every year young boys die in the process of “becoming men”, ulwaluko. Recently Mpumalanga made news when 27 boys died at an initiation camp. When such stories are reported I’m reminded of the imigidi I have attended, celebrating the return of ikrwala (a new man). Growing up, the deaths of amakrwala (the “new men”) were…

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A man who is not a man

By Fundile Majola There was a mixture of excitement and anxiety in the Port Elizabeth air on that sunny Monday morning of November 24. I was ready for my last matric examination paper, Geography. I was also ready to be made and declared a man – the initiation process was to start that evening. I…

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