Polls disrupt circumcision camps

Hundreds of Shangaani teenagers here were unable to take part in their circumcision ritual because of the recent national elections, according to villagers.

The annual circumcision service is traditionally performed in winter. However, Because of political interference this year the practice had to be suspended in most areas for fear of reprisals.

The practice is strictly observed in southern Africa. It involves teenagers going to camp for several weeks where they take part in lessons on roles and responsibilities of youths as they enter adulthood.

Villagers said they feared an unmanageable increase in the numbers of camp particpants next year.

Tiyani Macheke, a Chiredzi community leader, said the number of youths who participated in the ceremony this year was too small.

“We hope that next year we have more people,” said Macheke. “However, more people means we would need more resources such as food and other materials.”

Food shortages affected the programme last year.

Contrary to similar exercises in Mozambique and South Africa, Shangaanis in Zimbabwe work with trained AIDS prevention activists.

Evos Makoni, a Masvingo National AIDS Council provincial committee member, said: “We work hand in hand with the community to ensure that no diseases are spread or contracted during the ceremony”.

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