Today, 27 September 2018, the Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture (DSRAC) Amathole Museum and Men's Forum in partnership with the Eastern Cape Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), SAPS, House of Traditional Leaders, Buffalo City Metro Municipality (BCMM), Department of Health, Education Department and Amathole Museum held a Men's 'Ulwaluko' Provincial Event to educate boys about the importance of the custom in OR Tambo Hall, Zwelitsha.

The purpose of the awareness programme was to highlight the importance of the initiation ritual and the value of this culture as the initiation summer season draws closer. It was also a platform to address several concerns and matters pertaining to the cultural practice of initiation rite. The DSRAC General Manager of Arts and Culture, Mr Sakhiwe Sodo gave a message of support alluded to the fact that our culture, which is our heritage should be natured as it is threatened. He narrated a personal story of how he grew up as a boy and this custom was valued by our communities in teaching and educating boys to manhood. 

Mr Fezile Cindi who was part of the guests from COGTA spoke about a study he conducted in 2013 on why there are so many deaths of initiates 'abakwetha' in Eastern Cape. The study showed that there should be legislation that should guide this custom as initiates die due to Dehydration, Assaults and Circumcision conducted by those who are not suppose to. This led to the development of Eastern Cape Customary Male Initiation Practice Act No.5 of 2016 signed by Premier Masualle. The legislation comes with hush penalties to those who are contravening the law and the perpetrators should be warned. 

Mr Luvuyo Singisa from the House of Traditional Affairs indicated that they support this initiative, "Being a man comes with responsibilities that are taught at the initiation school which must be valued by our boys. I am happy that this awareness programme will be done biannually to educate the value of this culture and custom, as we are available as leaders to guide in teaching our boys," said Mr Sindiswa. The BCMM Speaker of Council Mr Skuta Alfred Mtsi addressed the boys as the guest speaker and indicated that, "initiation ritual forms part of nation building as one is educated at the initiation school. You graduate from a certain stage to another level as you mature in your upbringing. We have a challenge of people commercialising this practise hence there are so many deaths we are facing."

 "The summer initiation season is approaching and we don't want any deaths hence we are adopting the slogan that says 'One death is many'. You, boys should be responsible and not only leave the responsibility part to your parents. One must know the necessary steps towards this initiation rite," said Speaker Mtsi.    

More than 200 boys who fall between the age of 17 and 18 around the Buffalo City Municipality schools and about to go through the initiation rite attended the awareness programme.


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 Mr Andile Nduna

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