In modern day society, African initiation practices are viewed by some as backward and less important. For young African boys in rural areas, especially in their teenage years, initiation serves as a transforming practice that progresses them into responsible men through the teachings they receive during their stay in the wilderness away from their homes.
These practices can teach boys to mitigate aggression and anger – according to Mr Anele Siswana, a 28-year-old Clinical Psychologist. Mr Siswana is registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) and is an employee at the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) Centre for Psychological Services and Career Development (PsyCaD). For this work, he has been nominated in the Health category for the Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans 2017. Results of winners of this award will be published on Friday, 30 June 2017.
Siswana says that his work makes significant contributions to promoting initiation rituals beyond just a circumcision procedure. “Initiation involves not just the initiates, but also the families of the initiates, the broader community and the brotherhood participating in the practice. During the process, initiates learn fundamental values around citizenship, responsibility, and the protection and preservation of manhood. These practices can teach boys to mitigate aggression and anger.
“I personally believe that there is much we can take from so-called ‘outdated’ practices such as initiation. Done properly, it’s a positive experience and a corrective emotional experience for a young boy,” says Siswana.
Each year since 2006, the Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans supplement has been showcasing young leaders and celebrating their outstanding work. The Mail & Guardian extends an invitation for nomination to the public each year to put forward names of exceptional young people to be considered. The nominees should be born or based in South Africa and be under 35 years of age.
The Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans categories include Arts and Entertainment, Business and Entrepreneurship, Civil Society, Education, Environment, Film and Media, Health, Justice and Law, Politics and Government, Science and Technology, Sports, and Rising Stars.