, South Africa, 2 March 2004.

Circumcision village launched

02/03/2004 11:20 - (SA)

Cape Town - A project to establish an initiation village for urban Xhosa has been launched by the Western Cape provincial government on the Cape Flats.

The initiative, billed as the first in the country, seeks to provide space for what is essentially a rural custom in a city setting.

In its purest form, groups of newly-circumcised young men are required to spend a period isolated in makeshift shelters in the bush or veld, a ritual difficult to observe on the periphery of crowded townships.

A spokesperson for the Western Cape's environment affairs department said the idea of an initiation village followed a workshop held at Langa and a series of public participation meetings.

The department has provided R1,2m seed money towards the project, which would take shape on an allocated site of a few hectares within the 650ha Driftsands nature reserve near Khayelitsha.

The "community" would have to decide how to run the village, but money had been allocated for site works, landscaping and other facilities including a slaughter slab.

It was envisaged that about 600 youths would go through the facility every year.

The department estimates that there are about a million people living within a seven-kilometre radius of the site.

Edited by William Smook

(File created 3 March 2004)