Bukusu Tribe Circumcision Ritual
Newly circumcised initiates (Umkhweta) of Xhosa tribe in South Africa
Newly circumcised initiates (Umkhweta) of Xhosa tribe in South Africa

The Xhosa tribe  in South Africa have rite-of-passage ritual [circumcision] into manhood, called ukwaluka. 


In this ritual young men around 18 years of age are circumcised by a traditional practitioner called an incibi.  During the 10 day recovery period they are mentored by older male caregivers (ikhankatha) about the secret codes, practices and responsibilities of being a Xhosa   Ukwaluka is considered a test for endurance, of how courageous a man can be in his life. NPR 9.6.2014

What are the origins of ukwaluka?

Hebrew Bible?

The first person commanded to circumcise himself was Abraham, at the age of ninety-nine. G‑d told him (Genesis 17:7), “And I will establish a My covenant between Me and between you and between your seed after you throughout their generations as an everlasting covenant, to be to you for a G‑d and to your seed after you.”

“On the eighth day, the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.”  (Leviticus 12:2),   Learn more⇒ ♦ The Mitzvah – Abraham Chill Pages # 5  6  7

Xhosa Tribe members who are Christians  and follow the practice cite:

  • origin — Genesis 17:10-14, 23-27,
  • missiological —  Acts 16:3
  • moral argument —  deuteronomy 10:16; Philippian 3:3

as justification for the continued practice of circumcision.  The conclusion in the treatise though is that baptism substitutes for circumcision for

I checked with the author of who is an oral historian and researcher and he states in an email dated 5.4.2015 that he does not think there is a story of this ritual, it dates back to time immemorial and does not have any links to the Bible.  He had asked his grandfather about it who was an oral historian and there was no clarity on the origins.  Zuku Pokwana is also the director of the Vusizwe Foundation for Historical Research.

All I’ve found in the references and emails to authors – Search Engine Research is that it’s Tradition… but no real citation or story.  If you have any insight to this question of where the tradition started and origins, please post in comments below.  Please include links if applicable to your source.


Circumcision rituals in South Africa – the ceremonial transition to manhood in the Xhosa society – are resulting in the mutilation and death of hundreds of young men each year. People & Power investigates the tragic consequences.
South African documentary film-maker Mayenzeke Baza talks about his new film I am a Man: how he raised money to fund the film; an unsuccessful crowd-sourcing campaign on Indiegogo; eventual success with Al Jazeera and SABC; the male circumcision rituals of the Xhosa tribe; the dangers to young men,



Trip Down Memory Lane Blogspot Tons of pictures on   Xhosa culture, but you have to scroll and scroll, it’s all on ONE page.

Botched ritual circumcision leads to world’s first penile transplant.   Learn more at NPR 3.19.2015

Botched circumcision calls attention to the dangers NPR 9.6.2014

Ukwaluka – initiation of boys in amazizi dlamini culture

Ukwaluka is an ancient rights-of-passage into manhood still widely practiced among the Xhosa people of South Africa. Boys between the ages of sixteen and twenty-three are traditionally taken up a mountain where they are circumcised and kept in isolation for several weeks. During the first 10 days of the healing process, the initiates’ food intake is severely limited and they must observe a vow of silence.

It is during this period of extreme physical vulnerability that they are mentored by older male caregivers (ikhankatha) about the secret codes, practices and responsibilities of being a Xhosa man

Wikipedia  numerous references

Child Pages

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15 comments on “Circumcision South African Tribe

  1. It seems it’s a Bantu culture, some things are same to Bukusu of Kenya. Including the same word Ukwalukha. And applying of white clay after initiation.

    History of Bantu needs to be researched, in Kenya there is a Myth that Bantu learned from Nilotes when we interacted, but it’s a lie if Bantus went to different directions earlier on , it means it started way back.

  2. Good day

    The history of this ritual is unclear. However, it needs to be traced in order to establish it’s relevance on this day and age. During my conversation with Mayenzeke Baza, who has recently made a documentary relating to this ritual, we have agreed that to issues need to be observed here, namely it’s #Relevance and #Procedure.

    • Our history was never written down and as a result, we know very little, if not at all about our past. It’s only after the arrival of the white men that we began to read about our own history. We will never know how we (blacks) lived 1000 years ago. Maybe, the archaeological sites (if any) may help in this regard. Our history remains buried with our ancestors. This is so sad.

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