Some traditional leaders in Mangochi have expressed concernover the nature in which Voluntary Male Medical Circumcision (VMMC) is being promoted in the country.
The chiefs are concerned that the medical circumcision is diluting their initiation culture because when the boys are circumcised at the hospital there is no time for them to be sent to the initiation camps for counselling as is required by their tradition.
Additionally, the local leaders have further blamed officials for conducting medical circumcision during school period, which they said is against government’s policy of conduction such services during the holidays to avoid disrupting classes.
Speaking during a review meeting of a Safeguard Young People project which is being implemented in the district by Youth Net and Counselling, Traditional Authority Chowe recommended the need for government to consider reviewing implementation mechanisms for VMMC in order to incorporate and solve some concerns by the traditional leaders.
“Our Yao culture has greatly been affected by the medical circumcision. People are no longer valuing the initiation ceremonies because once the boys are circumcised at the hospitals, it ends there.
“This has to be looked into because every tribe has a cultural practice that is central to it. And to us, initiation is top of the practices which we need to keep and respect,” Chowe said.
He suggested the possibility of erecting initiation camps within or near health centres where the boys can be kept after being initiated to allow the initiators (Angaliba) to talk to them as well as give time for their healing.
In her remarks, T/A Bwananyambi further blamed the medical circumcision for increasing moral decadence among the youth saying the youths are now not being told how to respect the elders as well as behave in society as was the case before.
“On top of that, in our time, women did not know what happens when a boy goes for initiation. But now it is different because women are now the ones who are taking care of the boys after the medical circumcision and release the boys the same day. This has to stop or we have to find other means of ensuring that our culture does not suffer because of medical circumcision,” she said.
Coordinator for youth friendly health services in Mangochi, Emma Mapuchila, said Mangochi District Hospital had already noted the concerns which the chiefs raised.
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