I Am a Man: male circumcision under the spotlight


South African filmmaker, Mayenzeke Baza, investigates the issues behind the tradition of circumcision in Xhosa society. A time-honoured rite of passage which has changed little since Nelson Mandela himself went through the ceremony 80 years ago, traditional methods remain favoured over modern practices. Every year dozens of young men are injured or even die as a result of surgery gone wrong.

In the film, Ndiyindoda: I am a man, Baza offers unparalleled insight into the cultural complexities behind circumcision and the communities affected, as a Xhosa man who had his initiation at 18. He talks to doctors speaking out against expensive bogus surgeons, and boys determined to risk their lives to follow tradition to the letter.

Baza follows student Sibusiso Gaca, 18, in the lead up to his ceremony. Eschewing a free hospital procedure, the boy says: “For me, hospital is a last, last, last resort… according to my beliefs, I have to go to the bush to be circumcised, this is our identity.”

Ndiyindoda: I am a man screened on the Al Jazeera English network on 2 January, as part of the investigative series, People and Power. It is a WorldView-supported project through the Multimedia Fund.

See the film on the Al Jazeera website