In Pictures: From boy to man – rite of passage in the spotlight

Though many boys have died in the past, the government promotes the practice as key in the fight against HIV/Aids

Tens of thousands of young boys take part in traditional initiation ceremonies each year, with circumcision being performed by traditional healers.

It’s estimated more than half of the boys in their teens undergo circumcision in initiation schools and the government has promoted the practice as key in the fight against HIV/Aids.

Traditional Xhosa initiate Fezikhaya Tselane, 20 years old, applies traditional white clay for skin protection during a traditional initiation process, in a rural hut on July 11, 2017 in the Coffee Bay area in Umtata.
Image: Mujahid Safodien/AFP
Traditional Xhosa initiates Fezikhaya Tselane (L), 20 years old, and Khanyisile Mapope (R) 18 years old, perform rituals during a traditional initiation process, in a rural hut on July 13, 2017 in the Coffee Bay area in Umtata.
Image: Mujahid Safodien/AFP

The initiation season is in mid-winter. It has attracted much controversy in the past decade because of the high number of fatalities as a result of botched circumcisions and other enforced hardships, including beatings.

An official commission of inquiry found 400 boys died and 500,000 were hospitalised after attending winter initiation schools between 2008 and 2013, with a major cause being complications from infection after circumcision.

The rite of passage into adulthood usually follows a bush retreat of two to four weeks and is widely seen as a test of physical endurance.

It has attracted much controversy in the past decade because of the high number of fatalities as a result of botched circumcisions.

Traditional Xhosa initiate Fezikhaya Tselane, 20 years old, look out a window of a rural hut during a traditional initiation processon July 11, 2017 in the Coffee Bay area in Umtata.
Image: Mujahid Safodien/AFP
Fezikhaya Tselane, 20 years old, stands during a traditional initiation process in a rural hut on July 11, 2017 in the Coffee Bay area in Umtata.
Image: Mujahid Safodien/AFP

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