DURBAN - Zulu men, go out and get circumcised.
This call from Prince Nhlanganiso Zulu was the second edict telling Zulu men to do so since King Shaka banned the practice to save youths time in the hills during the rites of passage ritual so they could rather go out and fight to build the nation.
The prince said he was repeating the message delivered by his father, King Goodwill Zwelithini in 2009 “for the war against HIV”, noting the high prevalence in the province.
Last night, at least 50 people had responded to his calls and gone to the St Aidan’s and Prince Mshiyeni Memorial hospitals for the free circumcisions on offer, said Skye Grove, spokesperson for the HIV/Aids NGO, Right To Care.
WATCH: Zulu men, told to get circumcised. Video: Duncan Guy
“It’s free and it’s quick,” said the 45-year-old prince.
He said he had been circumcised when he was 19, while playing football for Amazulu Football Club.
The prince also called on men to speak openly about any disease they faced, then took off his shirt to show a surgical scar he had from an operation for tuberculosis that had cost him a lung.
He was sharing a platform at Warwick Junction taxi rank with soapie star Kagiso Modupe, an ambassador for Right To Care and another HIV/Aids NGO, Brothers for Life.
“I made a call this year to get 2 000 men to come and get circumcised with me,” he said recalling the March event at Katlehong in Gauteng.
“It was a big day. I brought my wife and kids with me. We made it a family day.”
This was because people needed to start having discussions about this, and to protect women from diseases such as cervical cancer, he said.
More than 200 000 men had undergone the surgery since his call, he said.
It had been a bigger cultural challenge to promote circumcision in KwaZulu-Natal than elsewhere, he said.
Boilermaker student from the KZN School of Welding, Vincent Sethaba, 27, told the small crowd he had been circumcised “just for myself and my family”.
He said it had been an easy decision because he kept the company of people who had been circumcised.
One 18-year-old misunderstood the message and said that circumcision had spared him from needing to use a condom.
“I had it done when I was 16,” said Mabhece Linda. “Peer pressure made me do it.”
Grove, from Right To Care said there were bound to be some misunderstandings but pointed out that the campaign line was “circumcise and condomise”.
Linda’s friend, Mngadi Siyandiswa disagreed with him, saying he understood the importance of condoms.
However, he was yet to be circumcised.