Ancient African Traditions & Rituals

 

Congratulations to the staff of #StellenboschUniversity and Tygerberg Hospital in Bellville, Cape Town. World’s first successful #penis #transplant carried out in #SouthAfrica.

According to the News reports last week:
“Surgeons successfully attach donor penis to 21-year-old man whose own was amputated following a botched traditional circumcision ritual three years ago…”

If it doesn’t benefit us by developing us, then let’s call it redundant! Or do it in hospitals under a safe environment.

Today, exchange of services & trade determines what will stay and what will be extinct. In our continent the same applies; Hospitals is where a safe exchange in case of such a ritual may occur, …yet the thought of waiting for a safe operation prescribed by doctors and paying for such an operation scares away the traditional leaders at a cost of young men’s lives.

Do black lives really matter?

If so, how many young boys should die for us to pull the plug on this entire operation? Is 3000 enough? Is 1 good enough?


If rituals take the lives of our young men or disable them in any way or form, why are we not discontinuing those traditions. If we do not protect our own, who will?

Let us take #brideprice (also called i-#Lobola in South Africa where I’m from) for example: It is an ancient tradition that is practiced all across #Africa. In #Uganda it is even part of civilian laws, where there are cases whereby men demand their bride price back in case of divorce after 10-20years of marriage, after a woman has given birth to children and mostly suffered abuse at the hands of her husband.

The main major problem is how women find their value in men: “If he has paid so much for me, than I am somebody, I am loved, I am a woman!”  Or  … “I do not have to take care of my weight and live a healthy lifestyle because he loves me like this”. Women, time and time and again they link their value or worth in the opinions of men.

Yet, a woman’s worth is in who she is, not who men say she is. And this is also true for a man, their power lies in who they are, not what women say they are. This underlying consciousness or mentality is often translated in business and other areas of a person’s life. One of the professors during my Aerospace MBA here in France, said that for a woman to succeed in business she needs a male mentor, which is off course another way of saying that women need to be validated by men. A mentor can be either male or female, a mentor depends on an individual role model. Women who know who they are, reach greater heights. We need more and more women to lean in all fields of artistry.

#Brideprice tradition was perhaps fitting in the “bhundu years” (ancient times) to a life-style then, when a value of a woman was associated with bearing children to increase production in the fields and taking care of livestock. Industrialization and technology changes the way things are done everyday, even the roles; we too must change with times. Traditions, culture, rituals and customs change or evolve with time. Respect for women then was high: cases of rape and assault were unheard of. The value of a human-being in general was differently well understood…but since then lifestyle is different. The bride price or the exchange of gifts during the custom has been manipulated and have cost millions of women and #children their lives and access to #education, especially #girlchild. Young girls are married off, as young as 9 in some cases in order for family to gain money for food.

European cultures also practiced bride price before and around the 1300’s but has since been discontinued as people and lifestyle developed. #Slavery brought US & Europe millions, but today is viewed as barbaric. European women are still fighting against inequalities in their society today.

People all over the world conceptualize “life” materialistically, including us, Africans. We live in a globalized world, which invites all sorts of corruption to old well meaning customs & rituals. Africa has been isolated for decades now, this causes slow development and resistance to old ways that are not beneficial. The scarcity of resources and global high prices for food and clothing live poor countries in vulnerable conditions whereby selling your daughters is mere survival act. In African countries where the majority of the population live below the poverty line, bride price is done without dignity or consideration to a woman’s wellbeing instead women and girls become commodities and suffer domestic violence and abuse at the hands of their husband.

Young men, also often loose their lives year in and year out in South Africa during this ritual of entering manhood. Yet the government has not banned this practice completely. When we all know that a circumcised penis does not mean #transformation, but a symbolic gesture and a matter of hygiene, therefore performing this in a hospital environment minimize the risks of lost lives. 

In Kenya and other parts of WestAfrica it is women who go through circumcision which is female genital mutilation, which often entails the complete or partial removal of the clitoris and some loose their lives as well as this is done in villages where there is also minimal lighting. 


In Malawi the problem is the rites of passage, which occurs in other parts of Africans well. It is an initiation that has lasting trauma even without physical injury. The Malawi Human Rights Commission, a government agency, has reported that initiations impinge on girls’ rights to education, health, liberty, and dignity. Once the young girl understands how to have sex, the girl’s family sends them to “initiation ceremonies” or sex camps. Reports from the Human Rights Commission further reveal that girls as young as six years old are sent to the Malawian sex camps. The Commission further elaborates on some of these rituals, stating that girls are taught a dance known as chisamba “as a way of preparing them for their role of satisfying their husbands in bed,” and that they are made to perform this dance at the end of their initiation “bare-breasted in a very explicit manner as they are being presented to the whole community.” This is to “initiate” them into womanhood. It’s called kusasa fumbi or “sexual cleansing” and requires a hired-man, called a “hyena”, have sex with the young female; girl’s passage from childhood to adulthood. 

Young Malawian girls are taught at an early age that they must have sex in order to “get rid of child dust”. They are lead to believing that if they ignore “sexual cleansing”, they will become diseased or suffer other forms of great misfortune. The fear instilled in the children runs deep. After completing her sexual cleansing, one young Malawian explained,

There is nothing I could have done. I had to do it for the sake of my parents. If I had refused, my family members could be attacked with diseases – even death – so I was afraid.”
Given that 35% of all pregnancies in Malawi come from teenage mothers and that over 1 in 10 girls have HIV/AIDS, it will come as no surprise that as part of this cultural practice, the Hyena is forbidden to wear a condom during the initiation.

When we say #blacklivesmatter than we must demonstrate that in our conduct. Traditions that are killing us and are taking us backwards must go.


There are many ways to preserve culture, heritage and history in a way that is not at the expense of the other. Corporal punishment was custom at our schools growing up but today it is seen as barbaric because it inflicted harm to children and scared them away from school, which contrary to the agenda of governments. Governments want children educated, boys and girls alike.

There are numerous African traditions and customs that are beneficial, positive, customs that are developing, encouraging & inspirational to the people. These are timeless traditions,  they are appreciated and even adopted by other cultures. In the #Zulu culture for instance we have a tradition of enchanting elders names to one another in a family (called “#Izibongo” or “#izithakazelo”) when we show gratitude, appreciation, or encouragement. I remember how it made me feel when my grandparents and parents called me by these; it made me proud, confident and I felt that I matter, I count for something, I represent something, someone, a family tree, even a #nation.

There are many such traditions that are positive, we know them: they are not sexist but inclusive and they dignify us.

This is Godly! Something that allows children (boys or girls) to flourish, to be fearless, to try new things and be new things. Traditions that are degrading, deforming us and killing our children, shaming our women and #mothers must go.

It is time to live again!

#LightConeTheShift

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