The winter initiation season is upon us now, and many initiation schools across the country will be opening their doors to welcome young men and women. Initiates will embark on this sacred path towards adulthood with the hope of coming back into their communities transformed into matured men and woman. This rite of passage is critical to initiates developing into responsible, community-oriented adults and has been a central element of many traditional African cultures since time immemorial and a necessary part of many African communities.
The Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) honorable Des van Rooyen urged parents to be involved in this process from the beginning to the end when their children return back home from various initiation schools as this will assist to save lives.
The start of initiation season is sometimes characterized by the mushrooming of illegal initiation schools all over the country by unscrupulous people who aim to make money from this important traditional practice. If the last initiation seasons are anything to go by, then challenges like abductions, kidnappings and illegal schools might again occur in this season. To this effect, Department of Traditional Affairs will continue to work tirelessly with all stakeholders ahead, during and post the initiation season to ensure that we root out these challenges mentioned above and thus saving lives if initiates.
The Political principals of CoGTA, working with all other stakeholder will conduct unscheduled visits to a number of provinces as part of the interventions and monitoring. The random visits are part of the process and efforts to crack down and pounce on illegal initiations schools during this season.
In addition, the department has called for Provinces to strengthen their monitoring and coordinating forums so that they can remain vigilant and assist to identify and root out challenges inherent in the system. Deputy Minister of CoGTA, honorable Obed Bapela emphasized the African proverb which says, “It takes a village to raise a child”. The deputy minister is of the view that without community involvement, government we will not be able to bring an end to the challenges around initiation. “Remember, initiation is a societal issue and all problems emanating from it, are also societal problems. “This confirms that indeed it takes communities to raise responsible young men who can contribute positively to the future of our country”, said DM Bapela.
In an effort to bring an end this challenges, especially the death of initiates, CoGTA has adopted a “Zero Deaths Campaign” which is a clarion call to all communities in the country to come together to ensure a safe initiation seasons. Therefore,
parents/legal guardians are urged to:
- Ensure that their children undergo medical checks ahead of the initiation process.
- Ensure psychological readiness of initiates
- Use legal registered initiation schools
- Ensure that the traditional surgeons are registered
- Young men must go through the pre initiation medical screening process
- Initiates are drinking lots of water to avoid dehydration
- Parents to have medical trained personnel ready for any intervention required;
- Parents and communities to report any illegal/unregistered initiation schools to the authorities for appropriate actions.
Deputy Minister Bapela indicated that with all processes put in place and the tips given to communities, it is definitely unacceptable that initiates should still die when we have put mechanisms in place to address issues and challenges of the season.
Parents, care givers, legal guardians and communities in general are urged to play their part and support our zero deaths approach during this initiation season. We cannot allow others to take the lead and destroy the lives of our children as this responsibility that cannot be delegated to anyone.
“As government, we request parents to work in partnership with traditional leaders, government and all other stakeholders to ensure a conducive environment exist for a successful initiation season to be realized. It is important to be vigilant so as to ensure that we reach our Zero Death objectives”, said Minister van Rooyen. The CoGTA Ministry further cautioned that children too have rights as guaranteed by our constitution and the bill of rights which guided our democratic South Africa in the last 23 years of freedom.
“Guided by our theme – “We Love Our Tradition, We Value Life of Our Youth”, we urge parents and communities in general not to drop the ball, but should remain vigilant throughout this period to ensure that our children return back home alive, let’s adopt “Zero Tolerance to initiation deaths. It is important to note that even when the initiates are at the initiation schools, parents are still the primarily responsible for their health, this is one role that they cannot outsource or delegate.
Together we can ensure that we protect this important and sacred traditional practice. This can be possible with the involvement of communities and parents. Let us ensure the safety of our children – by adopting a “Zero Tolerance to initiation deaths”.
We urge communities to report any wrong doing related to initiation through this hotline number – 0800 111 166.
The Ministry for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs wishes all the initiates, their parents and other stakeholders well as they enter this important journey of Initiation.
Cell: 083 378 9495