Corona delays the crossing of boys of an African tribe to “manhood”


Senoyolo’s uncle, not his real name, had organized his stay in December in the mountains near Port Elizabeth (South), in preparation for a ceremony called “okalooko” that marks the transition of boys to adulthood.

Every year in June and December, thousands of young people spend their lives ةتنية خوسا Between the ages of fifteen and seventeen it is at least three weeks away from the world during which they undergo circumcision and learn how to become responsible men.

But for the first time, ethnic kings, princes and traditional leaders suspended this annual ritual in which young men share a hut and are accompanied only by a “jungle doctor”.

And they decided at the beginning of April after the imposition of the embargo in South Africa to postpone the ceremony scheduled for June. After that, all those scheduled during the year were canceled when it became clear that the epidemic could last for many months, according to what Afra Mesoto and one of the Khosa ethnic leaders, to which former Presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki belonged, said.

“If we send them there and it turns out that one of the boys is infected with the virus, the infection will be transmitted to everyone,” he continues.
He explains, “When a young man moves to the mountains and undergoes circumcision, his body will be weak during the first seven days. We considered that it is very dangerous to lose more young men than usual.”

Circumcision operations that are carried out in rudimentary health conditions claim dozens of victims annually, in addition to many boys becoming dehydrated and infected.

Senoyolo acknowledged that he feels some relief to postpone these rituals due to the harsh ceremonies and the risk of infection with Covid-19, which has officially claimed the lives of more than 11,000 people, with about 570,000 injuries recorded in South Africa.

As the traditional leader, he believes, having to stop or shorten this ceremony would have been worse than the delay.

“When a person is on the mountain, one should not return before the end, even if he is sick, because by doing so, he will lose his values,” says Afra Mesoto.

“We wanted to avoid our society seeing that the boys of 2020 are not tough because they haven’t finished the rote process,” he adds.

Senuelo agrees with a nod of his head to what the traditional leader says, stressing the importance of these measures. “Older young men do things that I cannot do and treat you like a child so I want to raise my level,” the teenager asserts.

Avra Mastu stresses that the decision to cancel it was unanimous. “No matter how enthusiastic going to the mountains is, the most important thing remains to come back alive.”


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