In the internet world we are in , abolishing traditional activities such as initiation ceremonies for boys and girls in order to combat teen pregnancies and early marriages doesn’t make any sense. It is a waste of time and energy.
I am referring to traditional leaders in Zambia, who have opted to get rid of some traditional norms and culture in their determination to combat teen pregnancies and early marriages. I am very surprised to see that the government welcomes the development and say that the move taken by the chiefs will largely help bring to an end early marriages and pregnancies. Yes, somehow the move sounds good but reflecting on it is ignorance. What about the internet? Is the internet going to be banned in the region? As far as I know, teens learn more from the internet than from anywhere else.
People, teen pregnancies and early marriages can only be dealt effectively by educating a child. Making sure that every child has access to quality education. That is what the world is encouraging us to do. It is the reason why th UN adopted 3rd resolution on child, early, and forced marriage.
Zambian President Edgar Lungu said and I quote “Ending child marriage by 2030 will require a range of action, including making sure girls have access to quality education, legal reforms and changing traditional harmful practices.” Very powerful point. I don’t think he meant geting rid of initiation ceremonies. I also don’t believe the UN would want to see GULE WAMUKULU gone. Let educate a child.
As Gender Minister Elizabeth Phiri observed, children are prone to be exposed to different activities as they report to school due to distances between communities and schools. So, instead of trying to please the government of the day, chiefs can use this opportunity to demand more secondary schools in their chiefdoms. At least one college in every chiefdom. It is not about politics but development.
How many secondary schools do you have in your chiefdom? If not enough, is time to ask for more. Is there a college and hospital in your chiefdom? If no, start to demand one. Are there some youth empowerment programs in your chiefdom? If no, abolishing initiation ceremonies will not help.
Chiefs and other traditional leaders, every thing has advantages and disadvantages and facing the reality is a way to go. If there is nothing wrong with discussing sex with teens in an effort to combat HIV and AIDs in your areas, there is nothing wrong with preserving initiation ceremonies.
We must find a way to live with our ceremonies. I therefore urge the Chewa Chiefs of Eastern Province to reverse their decision of abolishing initiation ceremonies for girls under the age of 18 years and initiation of boys into GULE WAMUKULU group.
By Venus N Msyani
Concerned citizen in the diaspora.