AmaHlubi boast of using doctors to do circumcisions

While the use of Western medical doctors and medicine in the ritual of traditional circumcision is still treated as taboo in many tribes, AmaHlubi have been embracing it.

HOMECOMING CEREMONY: Amahlubi traditional leaders led by the tribe’s leader, King Langalibalele ΙΙ, left, attend a traditional initiation homecoming ceremony for 28 young Amahlubi ‘amakrwala’ in Mthatha. Picture: LULAMILE FENI

At a recent homecoming ceremony (umgidi) of AmaHlubi men from the mountains, some tribal leaders boasted they had done away with traditional surgeons and used medical doctors to do the circumcisions.

The AmaHlubi’s traditional initiation schools are around Mount Fletcher, KwaBhaca, Matatiele, Qumbu and parts of Tsolo and Mthatha.

Addressing a gathering in Ziphunzana village in Mthatha at the weekend, they stressed the importance of enlisting the services of ixhwele (traditional healers) to cast away bad spirits inside initiates’ huts.

AmaHlubi national head King Langalibalele II also attended the gathering. AmaHlubi are among he tribes who have never reported initiation deaths or injuries.

Traditional leaders of AmaHlubi said that for almost 30 years they had been using professional medical doctors to do medical screening, perform the circumcision procedure and at times attend to wound management.

“We have been doing this even before the government became involved in traditional circumcision by involving medical doctors,” KwaBhaca’s Ncome administrative area sub-headman Zwelethemba Mehlomakhulu said.

But AmaHlubi and BaSotho are secretive about their traditional initiations, and even men who have undergone the rite but not according to Hlubi culture are not allowed near their initiation school.

Speaking about the use of medical doctors, Zwelethemba Mehlomakhulu and headman Armstrong Mehlomakhulu of KwaBhaca said only AmaHlubi doctors or those who had undergone the rite in accordance with Hlubi practice were involved in the initiations.

“This started as early as 1991. Everything is done in the traditional setup. The procedure is not done at a doctor’s surgery, hospital or clinic,” Zwelethemba said.

“The doctor takes all his instruments and goes to the mountain and does all the procedures in the way he would do in a surgery.

“We have been doing this for years and have produced men.”

He said using medical doctors ensured “there were no mistakes”. — lulamilef@dispatch.co.za

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