Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini has called for more men in KwaZulu-Natal to be circumcised as part of efforts to fight the spread of HIV/Aids.
The Zulu monarch made the appeal during the uLwaluko homecoming ceremony held in Kokstad — a small town on the border between KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape — on Tuesday.
The ceremony welcomes back young men who have successfully undergone the practice of ukusoka (circumcision). It celebrates their safe return from six traditional schools around Greater Kokstad.
King Zwelithini has been at the forefront of the campaign for circumcision following his decree in 2009 when he revived the practice which had largely been ignored in the province after it was banned among Zulus by King Shaka in the 19th century.
King Shaka believed the time it took to heal from traditional circumcision kept too many young warriors away from their military duties in his army.
But King Zwelithini ended the ban which lasted nearly two centuries and called for the medical circumcision of young men in the province in a bid to stem the tide of HIV/Aids.
His call received the backing of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government and since them more than 700‚000 men have been circumcised in the province.
King Zwelithini has also urged the government to ensure that indigenous knowledge is used in conjunction with the best Western medical practices to ensure that the fight against the spread of the dreaded disease is ultimately successful.
The king‚ a strong traditionalist‚ has previously also called on young men who are members of his traditional regiment to be circumcised.
Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube has thanked the king for reviving the practice.
“As the provincial government‚ we are happy to see young men in Kokstad and all surrounding areas undergoing the practice of traditional circumcision in safe and hygienic environments. We are also happy to see that these men are being taught about the responsibility men have in building our communities‚” she said.