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.



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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