Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini has welcomed about 200 young initiates (Amakrwala) from the greater Kokstad area back to their community after they successfully completed the circumcision rite of passage, the KwaZulu-Natal health department said on Saturday.
The homecoming ceremony, which took place at Shayamoya Sports Grounds in Kokstad on Friday, was also attended by, among others, Deputy Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Obed Bapela, acting KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala, health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo, co-operative governance and traditional affairs MEC Nomsa Dube Ncube, social development MEC Weziwe Thusi, House of Traditional Leaders chairman inkosi Phathisizwe Chiliza, and local mayors, the department said in a statement.
Dhlomo thanked the traditional committee, called indlondlo, which was responsible for organising and performing circumcision in the greater Kokstad area, for agreeing to work in partnership with the health department to ensure the safety of all the initiates.
This partnership had resulted in broadening the circumcision process as the indlondlo committee considered initiation as a broader concept, which entailed strong teachings of moral regeneration that transformed an individual from boyhood to manhood.
“Today [Friday] we are proud to report that we have jointly ensured the safe return of all the initiates. In 2012, we successfully circumcised 236 initiates; in 2013, a total of 241; in 2014 increasing to 300, with 265 in 2015, and a final 200 that we are welcoming back home today. All in all we have worked together to safely transit 1245 boys to manhood just in the greater Kokstad area alone,” Dhlomo said.
“I came here to learn because over the years we are collecting statistics of initiates dying in the Eastern Cape, North West, Limpopo, and other provinces, but none in KwaZulu-Natal,” Bapela said.
“What I am observing here is the involvement, co-operation, and participation of almost all the provincial government departments in this particular initiative. I am also impressed by the seamless and easy relationship there is between the department of health and the traditional committee [indlondlo] and recognise that as one important aspect as to why all the initiates come back home alive in this province. I am quite impressed,” Bapela said.
Zwelithini praised Dhlomo for heeding his call for the revival of the circumcision custom and for the safe performance thereof to more than 750,000 boys and men since 2010.