Circumcision film cuts to the chase

NELSON Mandela Bay producer and director Mayenzeke Baza offers unparalleled insight into the cultural issues surrounding the circumcision ritual in his feature Ndiyindoda: I am a Man, which was screened on the Al Jazeera English network earlier this year.

In the documentary shot in the Eastern Cape, where tradition and culture are as old as the mountains that form the landscape, the filmmaker challenges the tradition of circumcision.

He spoke to reporter Thulani Gqirana about the film.

Q: Why did you decide to do the documentary?

I embarked on this as part of an awareness campaign. I felt as a Xhosa man that has been circumcised and has gone through the initiation ritual of my people as a right of passage to manhood, I could not just sit back and watch young men die or lose their penises.

Q: You are currently working on a feature length documentary on the same issue. Please elaborate.

It explores the complexities faced by my people; why, even though the practice is compromised, we still continue to do it. I think as a country we are at a crossroads when it comes to tradition versus modernity and it is about time we start debating these things.

Q: What do you hope to show about the practice in your documentaries?

In my film I will take you on a journey of how a boy leaves his school friends and goes through the ritual, what happens when he is there, what he learns and how he changes.

We speak to victims of the ritual, those who lost their children and those who lost their manhood. What do we do as a Xhosa nation to preserve our traditions but adapt to the modern world?

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