Popular

More South African Young Men Continue to Die in Coming-of-Age Initiation Ceremonies

The death toll has already risen to 21 this initiation season alone.

Twenty-one male initiates have already died this initiation season in South Africa, News24 reports. There are concerns that the death toll will continue to rise. While deaths have occurred across the country, the highest number of deaths has been in the Eastern Cape, home of the Xhosa people among whom the initiation ceremonies are most commonly, although not exclusively, practised.


The Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) minister Zweli Mkhize announced the new death toll statistics recently. Asked about what his organization and the government plan to do to curb these deaths, Mkhize responded by saying:

"We have issued guidelines which amongst others directs that initiates must be given drinking water and we are aware that this is not happening yet. The local monitoring committees should intensify their efforts to monitor their oversight and, where instances of criminality are detected, together with the South African Police Services, they must act and bring all those responsible to book."

These coming-of-age initiation ceremonies are heralded as being necessary in a young man's life and his passage to manhood. The ceremony itself, called ulwaluko in Xhosa, involves a journey to an isolated area or a mountain and primarily focus on the circumcision of boys which is their entry into manhood. The young men are then are then taught about manhood and masculinity by elder males in what is supposed to instill good moral and social values. The late Nelson Mandela, having been Xhosa, speaks about this sacred rite of passage in his book Long Walk to Freedom.

However, several challenges have plagued the ceremonies over the years and resulted in the unfortunate and often preventable deaths of the lives of many young men. These challenges range from illegitimate initiation schools or centers, hygiene issues and a lack of basic medical knowledge during the performing of the circumcisions as well as looking after the health and well-being of the initiates thereafter.

Many South Africans have accused Xhosa men especially of being silent when it absolutely matters most. This follows the nationwide outrage that was sparked by the 2017 film Inxeba: The Wound which sheds light on ulwaluko and centers a queer narrative. Many Xhosa men and people in general, fought for the film to be banned (which it was temporarily) as they felt it was a perverted disclosure of a sacred and private cultural ceremony.



Some of the initiates died from dehydration after not being given water for days. Others died from sepsis, either from the knife used in the circumcision not having been sterile or the onset of infection following the circumcision. One initiate was burnt alive while asleep and another committed suicide by hanging. In an attempt to help regulate initiation practices in the country, the government's National Assembly adopted the Customary Initiation Bill which take effect in 2019.

News Brief
(Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)

Pregnant Tanzanian Girls Now Have Hope Of An Education

In the past, Tanzania's pregnant girls of school-going age were banned from accessing an education. However, things are about to change!

If a young girl of school-going age happened to fall pregnant in Tanzania, it usually spelled the end of her schooling career — and the death of any prospects she may have had for a bright future. In Tanzania currently, an estimated 5 500 girls are forced to leave school each year due to pregnancy, according to the World Bank.

The Tanzanian government has announced a new programme aimed at addressing the plight of young girls who have been impacted by this discriminatory ban. Tanzania's Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology Leonard Akwilapo said young girls will now be offered an opportunity to further their schooling at alternative colleges.

Keep reading... Show less
News Brief
Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

Nigerian Government Barred From Prosecuting Twitter Users

The Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States has ordered the Nigerian government to refrain from prosecuting Twitter users, while it considers the case brought to it by civil society organisations and journalists.

Activists and journalists took the Nigerian government to court to challenge the recent Twitter ban, asking "the court to declare the indefinite suspension of Twitter a continuous violation of their human rights under the international law." As it stands the ban threatens to criminalise the 40 million Twitter users in the country.

According to Socio-Economic Rights And Accountability Project (SERAP), a Nigerian NGO, the court ruled that no person should be "sanctioned, harassed, intimidated, arrested or prosecuted for using Twitter in Nigeria.The ruling also means that tech companies must immediately restore people's access to Twitter as a matter of human right."

"The court has listened very well to the objection by Nigeria. Any interference with Twitter is viewed as inference with human rights. This will violate human rights. Nigeria must take immediate steps to implement this order," the court ruling stated.

Keep reading... Show less
News Brief
Photo by Deon Raath/Rapport/Gallo Images via Getty Images

Spirit Of Humanity Gives Hope To Young Boy Mauled By A Hyena

A 9-year-old Zimbabwean boy Rodwell Nkomazana has a shot at a normal life, again, after a horrific hyena attack left him with half of his face missing.

It takes a village to raise a child and sometimes that village comes from thousands of kilometers away, and consists of committed surgeons, passionate nurses and generous international donors. Nine-year-old Rodwell Nkomazana was asleep at an all-night church service when the unthinkable happened. The little boy was attacked and mauled by a hyena outside Harare, in Zimbabwe.

The medical team at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare, where he received his initial treatment, did all they could to save his life and stabilise him. However, due to a lack of resources and expertise, it was all they could do.

With half of his face missing, including an eye, his upper lip, his nose and part of his forehead, Rodwell was set for a life full of challenges. Not only would he have lost his childhood, but he would have probably spent most of his time in seclusion — isolated from the rest of society.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

Africa Could Start Producing COVID-19 Vaccines In 9 Months

While Western countries are speeding ahead with their vaccination programmes, Africa and the rest of the global South are still lagging far behind. Not for too long if all goes well according to the World Health Organisation!