As the first term of the 2015/2016 school calendar opened on Monday, several children in some Southern and Eastern region districts were still reported to be in initiation camps, something that will likely keep them from introductory periods.
Investigations indicate that while most camps released the children over the weekend, a few are yet to do so under some traditional leaders in Machinga, Mangochi, Balaka and Zomba.
When contacted, Senior Chief Liwonde of Machinga confirmed the development, but attributed it to unanticipated consequences.
He said children from group village heads (GVH) Nembo and Mbwezo could not be released from camps because traditional leaders were busy with funeral ceremonies in their areas.
“There were over 10 camps and most of them are closed except for two areas which failed to discharge the children because of the funeral that befell their villages. I will ensure that the children are released,” said Liwonde.
There are also reports that some initiation camps in senior chiefs Chikowi of Zomba and Nyambi of Machinga have not released the children.
Chikowi said she was not aware that some camps were still conducting the cultural rites while Nyambi said he had heard that some were still operating and warned them that he would destroy their structures if camp heads (ngaliba) decide to continue clinging to the children.
“It is important to strike a balance between the two. They are both important and inseparable, but when one overlaps the other then there is a problem,” said Nyambi.
He said villagers had adequate time to conduct their ceremonies during the just-ended long holiday and anyone found holding on to the children would be punished.