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Exploring traditional male initiates at an initiation school in Limpopo Province, South Africa: Cultural health practices

Mabatho n/a Sedibe


The purpose of this study is to explore traditional male initiates’ cultural health practices within initiation schools in the Limpopo Province in South Africa. Informants were six elders (70 -80 years old) who directed initiating services at the schools.

Data were collected by using unstructured group interviews and observations. Data were analyzed thematically. Findings indicated that the traditional male elders reported practices such as perceived positive aspects of initiation ceremonies including the Limpopo circumcision schools Acts, which stipulates that circumcision surgeons must be registered and tested before being certified to circumcise the initiates. Secondly, the Act further states that anyone who transgresses the law will face one-year jail sentence or R2 000 fine. Further-more the elders also reported the negative aspects such as: high initiation mortality caused by the lack of initiates’ competence, expertise, experience, skills and knowledge. Elders believe that local practitioners who have initiation experience to conduct initiation, have a better outcome compared to the ones who are from outside their catchment area, in as far as health promotion practices is concerned. Partnerships between the elderly initiation local men practitioners and external providers would thus result in less morbidity and mortality amongst the initiates.


Initiation school; circumcision; traditional circumcision; male circumcision; male initiates; health issues; rituals and cultural beliefs

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