Nelson Mandela was very much in favour of his Xhosa tribe’s annual initiation rite during which circumcision for teenage boys takes place in remote rural areas, usually with blunt instruments that are not sterilised.
The current “initiation season” is upon us in South Africa and so far the body count is 13. Of course, no-one in the outside world would ever report about this as it would be considered “racist” or at least politically incorrect to question African cultural practices, endorsed by the Great Xhosa himself.
According to provincial health department, “thirteen initiates have died in the Eastern Cape since the beginning of the winter initiation season”.
Spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said hospitals were overcrowded with severely ill initiates seeking medical assistance.
“The worst affected area is Mthatha in the OR Tambo region where health centres are clogged. Boys are brought in with their penises practically falling off,” Kupelo said.
The already constrained health system in the province was suffering a setback because of the initiation season.
“The day to day work by health workers is severely affected, the department is spending R1 000 on each initiate brought in for treatment,” said Kupelo.
The department had set aside R20m to intervene and help the initiates.
Private healthcare services and an additional 37 SUV vehicles have been hired to get health workers to initiates in the mountains.