Don’t mess with our initiation rites, say chiefs

Public consultations about the Customary Initiation Bill have only just started, and already it is being met with a backlash from traditional leaders. One chief has threatened to advise people not to adhere to any decision “tampering” with tradition.

Traditional Xhosa initiate Fezikhaya Tselane applies traditional white clay for skin protection during a traditional initiation process on July 11, 2017 in the Coffee Bay area in Umtata.
Image: Mujahid Safodien/AFP

The bill aims to provide effective regulation of initiation schools, and generally conditions around customary initiation. This comes after 21 deaths were registered nationally for the 2018 initiation season. According to Nkululeko Nxesi, executive director of Man and Boy Foundation, 20 deaths were reported in the Eastern Cape and one in Gauteng.

Chief Mathupa Mokoena‚ president of the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa, said the consultations were just another scheme by government officials to waste public funds.

“They started on a wrong footing. They should have consulted us. We are the people who know what’s happening on the ground and we have vast knowledge of our culture,” he said.

He was less than impressed with some of the proposals in the bill, calling them unrealistic.

“If this is meant to tamper with and destroy our tradition, we will tell our people to not follow it. We are warning the government to stop doing their own things and involve everyone. If they are serious they will do thorough consultations in villages and not some town hall,” he added.

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Source: TMG Digital

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