Summer initiation season officially opened

November 4 marked the start of the summer initiation season in the Eastern Cape, but for out-of-school boys.

In the Xhosa culture, this is a significant time when boys become men. However, the Eastern Cape’s initiation season has always been marred by controversy and tragedy. The summer initiation season officially began on November 4, according to the Provincial Initiation Coordinating Committee (PICC).

The Chairperson of the PICC and Chairperson of the EC House of Traditional and Khoi San Leaders, Chief Mpumalanga Gwadiso, said that the date is only for out-of-school youth.

Chief Gwadiso pleaded with parents and guardians to discourage their school-age boys from participating in the practice until they had completed their exams. “Education first and ulwaluko later hence we expect parents and guardians to observe directives from government in this regard,” he said.

To ensure the safe passage of boys to manhood, the Department of Health has already opened its testing and screening stations to conduct health checks and symptoms for Covid-19.

The traditional initiation was put on hold for a long time due to the outbreak of Covid-19. It had previously been suspended by the Cultural, Religious, and Linguistics Rights Commission (CRL) due to death tolls in some Eastern Cape regions in 2019.

“We have planned for zero deaths and injuries as we have always done. I am pleading with all traditional leaders to be visible in initiation schools and stamp their authority where there is wrongdoing,” said Chief Gwadiso.

The Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs (COGTA) MEC, Zolile Williams wished the young boys well as they transition from boyhood to manhood, which comes with enormous adult responsibilities.

“We call on all stakeholders especially parents and traditional leaders to work with us to stop the deaths and injuries of our children. Parents and guardians must support their children by visiting initiation schools regularly so that nothing amiss takes place,” said Williams.