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There is a part of the ceremony that I cannot understand, and that is the circumcision. (Not the reason for it, but HOW it is done.) I have heard stories of it being done with a sharpened rock, and other unsterilized ways, which, very sadly, cost one of my co-workers his life. (He was the third person I have heard of that has died from infections as a result of circumcision at their initiation these past holidays).

It is a wonderful thing that the Xhosa culture has, but you have to wonder why they can't slightly adapt to the modern world with regards to surgery. Surely you wouldn't want your own people to die because of something that is so easily preventable?

An image that will stay with me was driving down the coast over Christmas one year and seeing these boys walking in the fields wearing their traditional garb with their basuto hats and their faces all painted white. All of them were drinking cans of Coke.... a bit of the old world meets new I guess!

We have also just lost one of our church guys from the Rhondebosch church who died from a botched circumcision. What a waste!
I agree with JBagley. I think safe and sterile circumcision should be taught to community members.
PS, so glad you left Adam's winky intact!

That does sound intense. Lots of cultures have initiation ceremonies for boys. I often think/wonder if it's because menses was an obvious mark of maturity for girls. If so, then it's too bad that we no longer seem to celebrate or mark it the way we used to.

Sorry to get all feminist in this one, but it got me to thinkin. . .

Amazing, scary, and interesting. I'm not sure what to think.

I remember reading about this in Alex Haley's book "Roots". The boys were snatched out of their homes in the middle of the night, etc. Sounded scary and traumatic, but in the book they were very proud of themselves when all was said and done.

P.S. Can you imagine being circumcised at an age where you were old enough to remember it? The PAIN!!!

It is fascinating how they can live in both worlds and that will always be an advantage for them. They will be more flexible, open-minded and adjustable. My husband and I were in Kenya a few years ago and we went to visit a Masai village. The tour was organized for tourists but it was a real, working village (it was like the kind of tours you have in the townships). We spent some time talking to the chief’s son, who was studying engineering in Nairobi. He was the only one who spoke English and had lived outside the village; he was an urban boy who, during holidays, went back to his family to help them with their “business” as tourism money was very important for them. We always wondered what is going to happen in the next generation. Will they always go back or is it just a matter of time, money and education to forget all about their origins and abandon the tribe?
Always a pleasure reading you.

Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman recently did another motorbike journey - this time all the way through Africa down to Cape Town. They showed a ritual like this and the whole series was a huge insight into African cultures - and how many of them you guys have in your country/continent. All I can say is thank god I am a woman!!

How sad that here if you were to have any 'initiation' ceremony it is going out and getting completely pissed on your 18th birthday.

Not sure about having a man circumcised at that age all I can think is ow!

I agree with several of your previous posters. It's nice to see culture preserved, but when there are ways to improve the quality of life, safety precautions should be considered. Living in an area with a high native American population, I can attest to some of the awesome cultural traditions kept, but they should never be at the sake of health or safety. Nonetheless, I also realize this is also easier said than done, because of the beliefs of the sacred nature of their practices.

I am curious , does Freedom have a University Degree? Why is he working at a Play Place (unless his degree is in childhood education I suppose)

I just have to say that I really enjoy your post about S.A. culture, it is truly fascinating how both worlds live side by side and intertwine like this. Congratulations, Freedom!

I recently read an article about this too - apparently, there are a lot of Xhosa Mom's that are standing up and not allowing their boys to go "into the bush" for fear that they will be harmed because of the unsterilized instruments, etc. V interesting.

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