MINI RESEARCH REPORT ON GIRLCHILD TRADITIONAL CIRCUMCISIONS I INITIATIONS IN LIMPOPO PROVINCE OF SOUTH AFRICA. COMPILED BY: ALBINA KEKANA. SAGCA COORDINATOR LIMPOPO.
1.1 Limpopo Province
1.3 Ratio male : female
1.4 Ethnic Groups
2.1. Circumcision and Initiation
3. HISTORY OF THE TRADITIONAL PRACTICE
4. PERSONS CONTACTED I INTERVIEWED
4.1. M. R. Kekana Ndebele For Bolahlakgomo/Moletlane Zebediela villages
4.2. B. Matlejoane &. P Masemola Phaahla Sekhukhume For Ga - Marishane, Ga -Phokwane villages
4.3. Pheladi Chuene Nkumpi-Lepelle For Ga- Chuene, GaMphahlele Villages
4.4. Kwenadi Sekgopo, Balobedu, For Ga- Sekgopo, GaKgapane Villages
4.5 Prof, R. Ralebipi, & Dr. Ngoberi, Venda University
4.6. Mercy Lukoto Venda For Vhembe district
4.7. Dr, T. Maluleke Giyana For Mopani district.
5. OBSERVATIONS I AND SIMILARITIES
Limpopo Province occupies far northern part of the country, and it is one of the nine provinces that form South Africa, with a population of 5.1 million. A ratio of males to females of 1:4=54% females
The province shares borders with Zimbabwe in the North, Botswana in the West and Mozambique in the East.
For administrative purposes it is divided into six districts. In these districts there is a concentration of ethhic groups. Vhembe is predominantly Vendas, Mopani is Tsonga I Shangaans, Sekhukhune is Bapedi, Capricorn is urban (conglomerates I metropolitan) Waterberg is Ndebeles and farmers, while Eastern is occupied by Mapulana ( a branch of Bapedi tribes ) MAP!
I have to explain these concepts because I was made to understand that they are used interchangeably,
In our context.
Circumcision refers to surgical cutting of the foreskin in males and the clitoris in females.
lnitiation refers to orientation from girlhood into womanhood, guiding a girl through all stages with emphasis on the challenges and hurdles of life (physical, emotional and spiritual changes) it is commonly understood as "Bokgopha / Bokhopa"
3. HISTORY OF TRADITIONAL PRACTICES OF CIRCUMCISION I INITIATION.
The traditional practice is as old as the people in every ethnic group; it was and still remains a method of socializing girls and preparing them for transition into womanhood. The main purpose was to empower girls to enter womanhood with confidence from lessons and information given during the initiation period.
4. PERSONS CONTACTED I INTERVIEWED
4.1. M. R. Kekana from Bolahlakgomo, who underwent the initiation in her village. The first warning this people give, is that it is supposed to be very secretive, especially to girls and or women who have no experience.
· There are recognized people to suinmon a group of girls for a period of three weeks from their homes for initiation not circumcision
· A village chief has to give permission, and a reputed village doctor offered the task of preparing the house and surroundings where the girls will be initiated
· The authorized person works with three or more assistants and the doctor to take the girls through the lessons for three weeks
· They do not interfere with the vagina at all
· After three weeks parents come and fetch them home
· When going home they all have a mark on the right thigh to show that they have been through the lessons
· Arriving home they are welcomed with celebration feasts, they receive presents after washing off the red and white smears on their bodies and wearing new clothes.
4.2. B.Matlejoane and P.Masemoola (the two speak from experience) From Ga-Marishane and Ga-Masemola,, Sekhukhune District
NB. Warning is that the stories are to remain a secret.
The procedure is the same except that their initiation used to last for one year, but with time they had to change because of schooling, of late initiation it is only three weeks
There is also no interference with the vagina
4.3. Pheladi Chuene (She underwent the initiation) From Ga- Chuene village. The practice is common in the surrounding villages, namely Ga- Maja. Ga- Mphahlele and adjacent villages
In these villages the chief I and or chieftainess is the person summoning girls of a specific age for initiation by giving away his or her own girl of the same age, the initiation is done every five years. The procedure follows the same pattern as above except that the girls are not marked and they are all given new names which everybody can address them with and no more the old name.
4.4. Kwenadi Sekgopo (She speaks from experience ) From Ga-Sekgopo village near Ga- Modjadji Bolobedu
The practice is the same as above except that they have to stretch the labia minora to cover the two orifices and the purpose is for birth control and protection against rape.
The procedure of stretching the labias is done very gently using dripping (fat from slaughtered cows) until the two labias cover the two openings, (urethra and vagina)
Otherwise the rest of the initiation is almost the same.
4.5. Prof. Ralebipi and Dr. Ngoberi (Researchers) with no expenence referred me to Mercy Lukoto.
Both related their findings from the research that the initiation is regarded as strictly private, compounded by beliefs that one who tells what is done to a person who has no experience will either die or be haunted by the ancestors( myth or not ?)
They were told that there was no interference with the vagina in the whole process of initiation except that in some clans there is the stretching of the labias, for the purpose of birth control and for increased enjoyment.
4.6. .Mercy Lukoto
From Vhembe, Mercy is with me to explain how the Venda group initiates their girls. I shall give her the time.
4.7. Thelma Maluleke (from Research and Experience) (Venda University Nursing Section)
From Giyana did a study on the initiation of girls in Mopani and Vhembe, and had to undergo the initiation.
She indicated that she was not free to discuss her findings on the phone but she reassured me that in the two districts namely Venda and Mopane. or Giyane there is no interference with the vagina and their initiation is known as "BOKHOPA" which refers to the transition from girlhood to womanhood
There are several procedures that girls learn for the period of their stay but these are related to what is expected from a woman, for example a woman must be able to do this and that.
Mostly dependency on men interpreted as respect.
For detailed information about the study she asked me to consult her thesis.
5. OBSERVATIONS / SIMILARITIES IN THE PRACTICE OF INITIATION / CIRCUMCISION
Initiation I circumcision of girls is practiced in a cluster of villages where there is a concentration of one ethnic group and is passed from generation to generation through the governance and communities adhering to norms and tradition of that group.
Authorized persons and or heads of the tribe can summon a group of girls of a specific age , for initiation in olden days it was from 16 years upwards , these days its from 9 years upwards I am told, and he or she must work with experienced assistants and a reputed expert doctor in that field.
· A suitable house and surroundings are prepared by the doctor to be safe and conducive for the initiation ( no interference by other doctors and community members)
· Girls are brought by parents and a certain fee has to be paid, for those who come on their own payment is requested from parents and or guardians
· All use a secluded house for the girls and three weeks is common to all.
· All ethnic groups do not interfere with the vagina except those who stretch the labia minoras, but all in all there is no cutting / or circumcision.
· Procedures differ from group to group but the purpose remains the same.
· After undergoing the procedure girls are said to be ready for marriage.
6. .CHALLENGES SOME OF WHICH CAUSE CHANGES
1. Migration of communities into townships, suburbs and or towns, to be near the work places disorganizes the concentration of an ethnic group, while the governance is different and does not accommodate any traditional practices of circumcision I and or initiation with a diverse community rituals I norms.
2. Affluence, Christianity, technology all have no space for traditional practices,(not when a baby can be circumcised immediately after birth if it's a boy ) AND NO NECCESSITY IF IT IS A GIRL.
3. Education system, gives very little time for the initiation hence they are now adhering to three weeks during school holidays (June I July)
4. Specialized doctors are no more especially that medical roots are becoming scarce with climate changes affecting vegetation and change of behavior through education
5.Traditional chiefs I Rulers seem to be slowly loosing their status and control over the communities who are free to move from a village to towns, while traditional practices do not carry any meaning I worth.(can not be added to one's CV)
In conclusion I would like to give my colleagues from Limpopo a chance to share with us their experiences I and or what is done in their villages.
ANNEXTURE 1. Map of Limpopo Province