I got shocked to the core while listening to BBC the other day. Somewhere in South Africa’s Cape Province, 20 boys have been hospitalised because some quacks botched their circumcision. More outrageous is that four of those boys will have their organs removed entirely to save their lives.
The quacks were criminally hopeless. People, how can a country host and win a world rugby championship and then proceed to host a highly successful football World Cup and many other big events, even produce a states man of world repute like Nelson Mandela, yet they can’t get the simple matter of lopping off a boy’s foreskin right?
For the uninitiated, I am a male circumcision consultant and I can confirm that this business of turning boys into men is not child’s play. It’s not the sort of thing you leave to any Nakhamuna, Wafula, Shimanyula or Okoiti. This is a job for specialists. It’s a job you are born to do by virtue of a belonging to the right clan, meaning your father and those before him possessed something the Bukusu call kumusambwa. It’s an art you perfect with time and experience.
When these men see a foreskin that needs to be lopped off, they are seized by spirits. They shake, they tremble, they froth till the aforementioned foreskin is wriggling impotently in the dust. We have them in abundance here and it’s criminal that our brothers in South Africa should be suffering when our jobless circumcisers are gossiping at village markets and idling along shop verandas.
Many years ago, I met one such expert. I had travelled upcountry to ‘panel-beat’ my elder son into a man. That fateful morning, I tried to whisper a few important clan secrets to him but quickly gave up when I realised I wasn’t familiar with any. Then I tried to teach him why it was important to become a man, a real man.
Umkhonto wi Sizwe
But I also gave up when it became obvious the chap didn’t have the least interest in becoming a man. So I sent him over to my father, Caesar himself, for a few words of wisdom. But Caesar had serious issues with three ticks that had nestled between the udders of the old family cow, Wembe, so he just patted him perfunctorily on the back and told him to stand like a man or something to that effect.
Unfortunately, my boy was expected to lie back on a hospital bed, not to stand. That’s why we ended up at St Mary’s Hospital, a place where it was rumoured when I was a child that the spirits of dead white missionaries cried mournfully in the forest if you listened carefully at midnight.
I later discovered that those were just frightened cats. But I digress. There, I met a clinical officer who happens to come from the correct circumcisers’ clan.
In two deft seconds, my boy had been turned into a man and when I checked carefully, everything was intact. And you want to tell me that the country that gave the world the vuvuzela can’t get this right? If you are reading this Madam South African High Commissioner, don’t bother with commissions of enquiry.
The person to talk to is my learned friend and kinsman, Moses Wetangula. He will link you up with experts - like myself - faster than you can say Umkhonto wi Sizwe.