CITY PRESS, South Africa, 13 July 2002.

13/07/2002 22:00 - (SA)

Sunday Talk: A bit mundane and a little light
Vusi Mona

I never thought the sadism that accompanies the custom of initiation today would come so close to me. This week my mother-in-law discovered the old man who used to look after her livestock had died. He was abducted to attend an intiation school by men young enough to be his grandsons.

How do you initiate a 77-year-old man into manhood?

Simeon Bosbok of Madibogo village near Mafikeng died last weekend in what appears to have been a cruel death. He was secretly buried but his body has since been exhumed. Police say it had the marks of severe bruising.

Bosbok is not alone. We have heard far too many stories of abductions, deaths of initiates, botched circumcisions and penile amputations. All this happens in the name of culture, in the name of producing socially-responsible men.

What puzzles me is the apparent lack of political will to deal with this outrage.

I have said it before and repeat: it is absolute rubbish, and the height of backwardness, to subject boys and men to pain and emotional trauma because you want them to achieve responsible manhood.

Manhood is more than just forcibly removing the foreskin of young boys. There are boys whose parents left their penises intact and who turned out to be model men and fathers. And then there are a few circumcised twits who've been to initiation schools but whose understanding of manhood leaves a lot to be desired.

The sooner those who still adhere to this custom realise there is no correlation between a mountain school and manhood, the quicker we can stop this madness.

(File revised 28 July 2008)