Characteristics, modifications and concerns : ritual initiation among KwaBhaca males.
Ngaloshe, Christina Nosabata.
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This study investigates the distinguishing characteristics and the modifications to the traditional male initiation ritual as practised in KwaBhaca in the Eastern Cape. The concerns surrounding the incidence of death and maiming from related traditions is also investigated. The study reveals that • the male initiation ritual is still highly regarded in KwaBhaca; • the male initiation ritual itself is still performed strictly traditionally in KwaBhaca; • the male initiation ritual as practised in KwaBhaca has been successfully performed with minimal negative incident attributable to the performance of traditional circumcision; • where there is incidence of a negative reaction, this is usually attributable to a prior health condition of the initiate, and in these circumstances, the initiate is referred to a medical doctor, on condition that the medical doctor is himself an initiate, and that the consultation will be conducted in a place deemed to be safe from spiritual contamination • incidences of maiming and death can be attributed to a number of causes, associated with poor practice and unacceptable conduct; • boys who do not undergo circumcision in the traditional fashion are not regarded as men and remain boys in the eyes of the community. This means that they have to forego participation in important socio-spiritual ceremonies; • there is a necessity to share the experience of the successful traditional circumcision process to avoid further misadventure, maiming and death; • it is not the mechanics of the process of traditional circumcision that endangers lives, but the poor practice of the iingcibi (traditional surgeons) and other significant role-players including the initiates; • The traditional teaching that accompanies the ritual of circumcision is as important, if not more important, than the ritual itself. The study concludes with a series of recommendations aimed at rehabilitating and supporting the continuation of this important and venerated tradition.