More than 1,500 boys and young men from Mashamba and the surrounding area, as well as a few from Zimbabwe, returned home safe and sound after spending three weeks in the bush at the circumcision school in Mashamba.
The initiates received a hero’s welcome from their families, the MEC for Traditional Affairs Basikopo Makamu, and Thovhele Vho-Ndweleni Mashamba upon their return on Saturday, 15 July. The reception took place at the local sports ground.
The circumcision school, under the supervision of one of the country’s leading circumcision surgeons, Vho-Maine Avhashoni Tshifhango (the former Thulamela mayor and currently serving as a Vhembe District councillor), closed late on Friday, 14 July. This year marked the second round of initiations in two years after Covid-19. Parents, many dressed in traditional attire, came in large numbers to celebrate their sons’ homecoming.
Thovhele Vho-Mashamba, who was with the boys in the bush for the duration of their initiation, addressed the crowd during the ceremony to hand the boys over officially to their parents. He thanked the parents for entrusting their children into the care of the school and praised the circumcision school’s owner, Vho-Maine Tshifhango, for running a well-organised and incident-free school.
MEC Makamu stated they would stop at nothing to ensure successful circumcision schools. “We have more than 500 schools with thousands of initiates in the province. Only three deaths were reported: one in Vhembe, one in Capricorn, and one in Sekhukhune. This is because we have control, which is made possible by the cooperation from different stakeholders,” said Makamu.
He expressed his excitement over the foreign nationals who were also among the initiates at Mashamba. “As the provincial government, we are happy, but at the same time, we still have room to improve. The intention of initiation schools is to teach. How do you teach a two-year-old? How do you teach a five-year-old? We may want to open it for discussion. Let us avoid the commercialisation of initiation schools,” said Makamu.
Vho-Maine Tshifhango said the initiates had left their homes a few weeks ago as ordinary boys and returned as men who were ready to face life’s challenges. “We are very excited that there were no bad incidents and that all the boys came back alive and very healthy. Our urge is that we continue to uphold our culture if we still want to see good citizenry in our communities.”