Clergymen from the Amalinda Methodist Church in East London prayed for, and imparted words of wisdom to, more than 30 initiates in Dukashe township at the weekend.
The church men, joined by a health department representative and police, encouraged the initiates to become men of virtue when they returned to society.
Project leader Siyanda Ngceba said the visit to initiation schools was phase two of their awareness programme around circumcision.
“Before these boys went to the bush we encouraged them to do their tests and make sure they were fit for the journey ahead.
“Some die because they have diseases like diabetes that they did not know about,” he said.
Ngceba said the visit was their way of instilling good values in the young men; they told them what was expected of them when they returned to society. “On the day of the celebrations when they return, they won’t be able to hear some of the things the elders will be telling them. We decided to educate them while they are still there [at initiation school].
“We had their full attention and I believe it was the best time to share what it means to be a man with them while they are still undergoing the journey,” he said.
The group also prayed with the young initiates.
“Their parents have high hopes for them when they return. It is important that we prepare them for that so that they become men of integrity in society,” he said.
Ngceba said it broke his heart to see young boys who were well-behaved losing their dignity after initiation school.
“Others go there not smoking and they succumb to the pressure and come back smoking. These are the kind of things we are trying to curb.
“With movements such as #MenAreTrash, we need to make sure these young boys come back and prove that there are decent men out there,” he said.
“Initiation is an important journey for a young man and we need to regain its dignity and change the behaviour of the upcoming men to ensure that we have a generation of strong, confident men who know what they are about.” They would hold a welcoming prayer session for the young men later this month. — firstname.lastname@example.org