Brave female academic writes thesis on hot topic of Xhosa male initiation

Brave female academic writes thesis on hot topic of Xhosa male initiation

- Dr Mmampho Gogela-Smith has written a thesis on Xhosa traditional circumcision

- Xhosa men often consider it inappropriate for women to discuss traditional circumcision

- She said this prompted her to undertake research on the subject

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A female academic at the Walter Sisulu University has boldly taken on the controversial topic of Xhosa traditional circumcision in her thesis.

Dr Mmampho Gogela-Smith submitted her thesis on the topic, known as Ulwaluko in isiXhosa, as part of her political and international studies doctoral degree at Rhodes University.

Her thesis is titled: Perceptions of ulwaluko in a liberal democratic state: is multiculturalism beneficial to AmaXhosa women in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa?

According to a statement by WSU, Dr Gogela-Smith's thesis explores the intersection between culture, gender issues and politics.

Dr Gogela-Smith said her decision to research the topic was inspired by her experience in teaching Lifestyle Management. She explained:

With regards to the HIV/AIDS module in the course, I observed that any attempt to discuss circumcision as a possible risk-reduction measure for HIV infection was met with a strong objection and open hostility from Xhosa men, and sometimes complete withdrawal.

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This is because male students felt it was inappropriate for women or young boys to discuss traditional circumcision.

The academic said she was also influenced by her experience as a single mother at the time.

Additionally, the lack of research on how women felt or perceived traditional circumcision influenced her to explore the subject.

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