Mdantsane is a unique, vibrating, eclectic, African place. Follow us on a pilgrimage to Mdantsane to discover the street culture, fashion, food, people, music, homes, taverns, humor, businesses, history and what's hot in the second biggest township in South-Africa, located close to the city of East London in the Province of the Eastern Cape. Join us on this journey while we capture the spirit of this amazing place for you in the here and in the now. We are going to introduce you to many individuals, artists, musicians, groups and associations.
They are the HEROES OF DAILY LIFE. They are the people who create, innovate and improve their life and their stories deserve to be told. This is a place for only good and positive stories of humanity, that will send out a message of courage, endurance and strength to the world through their pictures and words.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Young Circumcision Surgeon's Quest To Preserve Tradition

The old age circumcision ritual is one of the most practiced and popular in the Eastern Cape. It is the ritual of admitting young boys into manhood upon reaching the age of 18 years when they are sent to the bush for several weeks into so-called circumcision schools and are taught how to become a man. However the practice has been attracting the wrong attention, and receiving negative coverage in recent years, as many young boys lose their lives, have their penises amputated or land up in hospital due to diseases. 

Different factors like inexperienced practitioners (traditional nurses and surgeons), underage initiates, unhygienic conditions, diseases and greed are some of the ills that are threatening this tradition. This has led to government and other stakeholders formulating measures to curb this carnage, and producing laws to regulate how the ritual is perfomed. The Traditional Circumcision Act, is a measure that provides for qualified people to perfom the ritual and also provides for the observation of health standards.
In the past being a cicurmcision surgeon was a role played by old and experienced men but now times have changed, as new methods of circumcision have been introduced. 

Andile Siko is one of the youngest traditional surgeons in the Eastern Cape who has taken upon himself to help preserve, promote and restore the circumcision ritual back to what it was. True to the stereotype, when you meet Siko you can be forgiven for not associating this charming, soft spoken and respectable young man as a traditional surgeon who is gaining popularity around the Eastern Cape.
Siko adimts that his choice of work was not his first preference, but that his job is a calling. He now cannot imagine doing something else.

SIKO in his traditional attire

"I started this kind of work when I was 19 years old and never looked back. I now have this responsibility of making boys to man, and I see more than 300 boys a year taking this important journey to manhood. I do not have a formal training but was told by ancestors in a dream to do what I do. I did not understand the meaning of my dream, and when I told my father he advised me to do this as it was my calling," he said.

He is concerned by the negativity the ritual has evoked in the community as many are calling for circumcision to be done away with, and advises parents and traditional nurses to be more involved.

"People should take precaution, be observant and extra cautious when working with young initiates. Nowadays most initiates are young, as young as 14 years old, unlike during our days. We went to the bush when we were between 18 and 20 year old, and never encountered such problems".
He pointed out greed as one of the problems and that parents should consult people who know the ritual well.
"Here in Mdantsane to circumcise a boy costs about R300 and a bottle of brandy. The money and the bottle of brandy are not a necessary payment, but a token of appreciation and helps to appease the ancestors. 

A Story by Siyanda Nkoyeni

Siyanda's Dream

We have been silent over the last few weeks because we are in the final phase of the editing process for the E-book version of " The Mdantsane Way " which is scheduled to be published at the end of October 2011. This has proven to be a task much more labourious than ever anticipated in our wildest dreams or nightmares. But there are some good and exciting news to tell. 
We are proud to introduce Siyanda Nkoyeni as our first guest blogger. Siyanda, born and bred in Mdantsane, saw an article about our book that has been published in our local newspaper " The Daily Dispatch" - thank you Daily Dispatch ! - and approached us with the proposition to contribute to the future online-magazine for Mdantsane that we are in the process of creating as well.


Siyanda has more than one story to tell. In 2010 he started a community newspaper with a friend in Mdantsane called the MDASB CONNEXION. Both men ran and funded the newspaper out of there own pockets and without assistance from any governmental institutions. The MDASB CONNEXION was well received by the Mdantsanians.
Community newpapers are not only a very important and sometimes the only source of education for people who live in underdeveloped areas with a lot of infrastructural problems but they are the people themselves. But even though the efforts of both men have done Mdantsane proud the CONNEXION died due to a lack of funds.When looking at the edition of April 2010 which Siyanda has kept as a memory (a memory not to forget his dream) it can only be said it was professionally printed and the standard can absolutely be compared to that of many other community newspapers.

Siyanda still has his dream which is to run a newspaper in Mdantsane for Mdantsane. And we are happy that he took the decision to contact us. That is what we wanted and what we were looking for.

Welcome Siyanda, we are looking forward to your stories and to your contribution. We also like the picture. 


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