Initiation camps, an intergarl part of growing up for the youth, are held eduring the long summer school holiday in the country.
This, according to social commentator Aubrey Khan, not only helps to shape the youth, but also upholds the culture aspect of various areas and tribes.
But, this year due to the novel coronavirus disease, there have been no initiation ceremonies, raising fears that the long standing tradition is coming to an end.
While acknowledging the absence has an impact on the best cultural practices and the growth of children, various quarters have reasoned that the cancellation was justified.
“The impact of the coronavirus has not spared the cultural and traditional sector as certain rituals for young boys and girls, normally held during the long school holidays in most parts of the country, have not taken place,” said Khan.
Traditional leaders in Mangochi acknowledged that all annual cultural sessions have indeed been cancelled as one way of enforcing preventive measures against the further spread of Covid-19.
One of the country’s groups that uphold the advancement of cultural and traditional wellness, the Angaliba Foundation also confirmed about the cancellation of cultural and traditional events, including initiation camps for both boys and girls.
“We aren’t holding any initiation camps this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic . The ceremonies have been postponed to next season,” said the foundation’s board chairperson Rodrick Mulonya in an interview.
He acknowledged that initiation camps offer an opportunity to impart skills to the youth. He urged parents to train their children during the period they are in their homes.
“Parents and the community are encouraged to look after their children in a manner that would not spoil them,” said Mulonya.
He said it is through initiation, youths graduate into adulthood.
“It is imperative to graduate because you can’t just be growing up like a goat. At least you must have a point of reflection,” said Mulonya.
Health expert and social commentator Maziko Matemba commended the Angaliba Foundation and all other cultural groups that have put on hold all cultural gatherings to prevent Covid-19.
“I agree with Angaliba Foundation that this year it will not be proper to conduct initiation ceremonies as the cases have been increasing at an alarming rate in local communities until the cases have been contained,” he said.
Gender activist Naurah Kandapo and education activist Kondwani Mhone challenged parents not to tire in moulding children in various aspects of life.
“Parents should always make sure children are under guard and helped on what to watch, read and do so that they do not lose focus of their cultural background, school or spiritual life,” said Kandapo.
Mhone said: “It is a challenge to parents to also act as both councillors and teachers. Without guidance, children can be corrupted intellectually, morally and spiritually.”
During initiation ceremonies, among others, the initiates are taught how to conduct themselves in society, respect for adults and leaders, and household chores.
As of this week, Malawi had recorded slightly over 5 700 Covid-19 cases and 179 deaths.