Song of the Soul: A VMMC Advocate Puts Her Activism into Poetry at Partners Forum 2015

April 2, 2015

Khanyisa Dunjwa is a community leader in sexual health and rights in South Africa where she is a member of the SANAC Women’s Sector. As a 2014 AVAC Fellow hosted by NACOSA, Khanyisa paved the way for voluntary medical male circumcision in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, where traditional male circumcision is part of a widespread initiation rite marking young men’s transition to adulthood.

The poem evokes Khanyisa’s motivation to merge aspects of medical male circumcision with traditional circumcision at a newly established pre-initiation camp in the Eastern Cape. Since implementation of the camps, rates of deaths and other adverse events dropped in the region. A Department of Health report documenting the program and outcomes is pending.

Having concluded a remarkable Fellowship, Khanyisa is pursuing larger scale rollout of the initiation camps and working to support The Eastern Cape Aids Council Civil Society Task Team on Safe Initiation. She also advocates for PrEP and other women’s prevention strategies.

Khanyisa presented this poem along with a poster at the Fellows Wrap-up & Orientation Workshop that took place before and after the AVAC Partner’s Forum in Johannesburg in March.

A voice with no space

my traditional leaders enhance traditional governance
my traditional leaders get support from my government
my community has evolved
i decided to get involved
my community is confronted by a monster
you will get details in my poster
initiation of boys makes us hopeful
sadly when it goes wrong it leaves us shameful
my traditional leaders value traditional circumcision
pity, they don’t see value added of medical male circumcision
wait a minute, my mothers voice is on mute
i need to push
she pushed when she gave birth
i need her voice to prevent death

by Khanyisa Dunjwa