While for many, voluntary male circumcision is simply about the health benefits, there is more to this exercise for the Tshangani community.

The ceremony is deeply rooted in their cultural heritage and it is what sets them apart and gives them a unique identity.

The ZBC News witnessed the graduation of 376 men under Chief Chitanga in Mwenezi.

“Kuyimba i ndavuko wa hina,” loosely translated that is Tshangani to say circumcision is our heritage.

Before undergoing the voluntary medical male circumcision, if one is of Tshangani tradition, they have to stay in camp for a number of weeks.

What happens in camp remains shrouded in secrecy and tradition does not allow them to divulge the secrets shared in camp. 

Quizzing the elders, one is only told, it is a time of initiation from boyhood into manhood.

In this community, even a 70 year old man is still regarded as a boy unless they have been circumcised, hence the pride that comes with undergoing this ‘right’ of passage.

This year, officials revealed that the numbers of campers was affected by food shortages, with some families failing to meet the basic demands for one to be in camp.

National AIDS Council Coordinator, Mr Edgar Muzulu revealed that most camps failed to convene due to resource constraints.

“We have structures to mobilise these people in order to come in and practice the voluntary medical circumcision. As you are aware, these communities used to practice traditional voluntary male circumcision but they have agreed to romp in modern methods. This is in line with the government’s efforts to reduce the occurrence of new HIV infections,” he said.

So apart from reducing their chances of getting sexually related infections, after undergoing the ritual, the graduates can now finally join their fellow male counterparts to discuss matters of importance in their community, something which in this part of the country is a preserve of only the circumcised.