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South Africa: Western Cape Cultural Affairs and Sport Empowers Forums for Safe Rite of Passage Ahead of Summer Initiation Season


The Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport has persevered on its endeavour to empower cultural practitioners on the COVID-19 Infection Prevention Control to ensure safety whilst practicing the rite of passage. Since March 2021, the Department empowered 306 cultural practitioners throughout the province.

During the winter initiation season of 2021, customary initiation was practiced for the first time under the COVID-19 regulations. A total of 15 initiation sites were operational and 318 boys completed the ritual with a zero indecent rate. Since the onset of the National COVID-19 Lockdown Regulations, initiation was prohibited and as a result the Department expects a higher than normal influx of boys to the initiation schools. The DCAS has put the necessary preparatory systems in place to manage the expected high number.

MEC Anroux Marais said, “As we mark the start of the summer season, we are happy to offer training sessions to prepare men for the journey lying ahead for the young initiates in the province. I wish them well whilst initiation is underway from the 1 November 2021 until 31 January 2022. The Department commits ourselves to supporting the Initiation Programme and will provide critical resources and PPEs to help in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic and other additional factors. Much like all other seasons, DCAS will ensure a safe and enabling environment during the summer season”.

It is worth noting that for the Western Cape, like other provinces, it will be the first time that initiation will be practiced under the new national Customary Initiation Act, Act 2 of 2021. All these firsts considered, we wish to express our sincere gratitude to all our stakeholders, inclusive of sister provincial departments such as Health, Social Development, SAPS, nature conservationists such as Cape Nature and Mountain-to-Ocean, municipalities, Initiation Forums and the traditional leaders who are the custodians of the rite of passage. We also acknowledge the great work done by the traditional surgeons as well as the carers who nurse the initiates through the season and impart important lessons. Their outstanding work does not only make us proud, but lives are also taken care of throughout the process and allows for a safe rite of passage in the Western Cape.



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