Friday, May 21, 2010

World Cup TV During Circumcision Schools

Well, this should cheer up the lads a bit.

President Jacob Zuma said South African boys and men who are scheduled to be circumcised during the World Cup will be able to take televisions with them into the bush so they can watch soccer during "initiation schools."

A little diversion certainly couldn't hurt ... well, not more than having your foreskin excised at the age of 15 or up.

Male circumcision is considered a passage into adulthood in many parts of Africa, and South Africa is no different. But usually the event comes with isolation. And certainly not TV.

This time, however, will be different.

It isn't every winter (in the Southern Hemisphere) that the World Cup is going on in the country.

Some South African men go to what is known as an initiation school for the process. Which, yes, is for much older men than in most of the West, where male circumcision overwhelmingly is performed on infants.

Adult circumcision is a cultural event of significant interest, among some academics, as you can see by reading this rather weighty treatise on the topic.

The money quotes: It "is a socially significant act, resulting in the integration into the community and assurance of acceptance and respect from other community members. Initiation is an important social device in dealing with adolescence (and) the training and preparation provided at the initiation schools enables the shift from childhood behavior to more complex behavior expected in adulthood."

So, it is a big deal. However, it has to be painful, and in a World Cup year, some initiates might be less interested in trekking out into the bush to go through with it when it means no World Cup, as well.

But the president says TV is OK, this year. And actually, it might make the process, which seems to take quite some time, once healing is included, a little easier to bear. Though the skill of the guys wielding the sharp objects, as well as the sterility of those objects, might make for longer-term success than access to the South Africa-Mexico match on June 11. Though a victory by Bafana Bafana Bafana might even ease the pain of the ordeal, at least for a bit.

Have we mentioned this? The 2010 World Cup will be like no other before it ... in many, many ways.
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