Circumcision issue taken out of context: Fungisai

RB: From which tribe are you from Fungisai?

FM: I am from the Varemba tribe, under the Vatovakare clan.

RB: You are regarded as one of the best role models to date in preserving the basic institution of society- family, what really inspires your beliefs?

FM: My beliefs are inspired by the rich cultural values that we have, which I believe are brought about by the deep-rooted family values that are instilled in us from childhood as Africans. We grew up as a family with the basic values of what a family means, being taught to us as kids and we would also see how our elders peacefully lived and co-habited.

We also acknowledge the extended family and how we co-exist with respect for our relatives. Even elders whom are not direct relatives to us, we were always taught how they were part of our family in the larger circle of life hence all these values have taught me to cherish and appreciate the institution of family. I am also inspired by my faith in Christ as we are one big family in Him.

RB: Do you firmly believe that the role of women is to support their husbands while they remain in the background?

FM: I believe men and women have different roles and functions in society and these roles ensure that they both compliment each other especially in marriage.

The Bible says wives submit to your husband’s as the church is subject unto Christ. The same Bible also talks about a “virtuous woman whose price is above rubies. She riseth whilst it is yet night and giveth meat to her household.” So whilst women support their husbands and the husbands alike, it means women have to be industrious and be able to hold their own and work as a family to compliment their husbands so that when the family prospers they prosper together.

Gone are the days were women should just sit and wait and remain in the shadows but a noble woman (Mukadzi akangwara from my Zvirevo album) uses her hands and wisdom to work and be productive.

This does not mean disrespecting their spouses but working to support each other for the good of the household. Women are assets to society and once women take up their rightful places, the nation prospers. We have various role models that have done it so this should be a challenge to all women. In the last few weeks the media has been awash with reports that you said uncircumcised men are “useless”. What really made you say that?

Clearly that is not what I said and meant and what I said was taken out of context. I spoke on a situational issue based on ethnicity where in some cultures like the Varemba where I belong and the Shangani, the issue of circumcision is regarded highly.

Men have to be circumcised and if one is yet to be circumcised there are certain manly duties they are not allowed to perform.

Some of these duties include slaughtering of livestock to be consumed by the Varemba people. Not to mean that he is not a man in the literal sense but it’s their way of life based on tradition and cultural values. In some other tribes, uncircumcised men cannot attend men gatherings like ‘dare’ and this was a comment I made in passing as I was at the Shangani tribe as well.

The real issue is that we should not lose sight against HIV and Aids and for a time that we have no cure, lets do whatever we can to reduce chances of infection, I believe we must do whatever it takes.

Male circumcision is only but one of the ‘defenders’ that we are promoting. I believe it is the duty of all of us including the media to promote and advocate for such methods that assist in this fight.

RB: Are you planning to take legal action?

FM: I am not planning to take legal action. It is common that people at times derive different meanings from what one would have said.

I am glad that this whole issue has also contributed in bringing to the fore the issue that we are going around the country to promote and advocate for, that of male circumcision.

RB: Since that article came out, what kind of response have you been getting from people particularly men?

FM: Well most people I meet understand the subject matter at hand that we are advocating for methods to reduce cases of deaths related to HIV and Aids and I do not begrudge those that comment negatively because their views are based on information that was incorrectly portrayed.

RB: Being a Varemba how important is circumcision in your tribe?

FM: It is very important and has been practiced for a long time. It has been practiced from generation to generation even up until this day. There are initiation schools across the country, which conduct circumcision within our tribe.

RB: Did that in a way influence your decision to also get married to Courage who is also a Remba?

FM: When I met Courage at first I did not know that he is also from the Varemba under the Zungunde clan, Hamandishe. But within our tribe, our elders have always promoted the issue of marrying within the tribe like me from the Vatovakare marrying a Zungunde so it was of great joy to both our families.

Being an Aids activist, promoting circumcision among men, has the issue been well received and which age group is eager to be circumcised?

It is an ongoing process which is being received very well were have travelled so far. Various centres have been set up and the numbers are increasing.

Statistics will be published by the various bodies that are involved in the awareness campaigns since the programme started and I believe we will see are huge change.

RB: Do you yourself strongly believe that circumcision is one of the best methods to reduce HIV and Aids among men?

FM: There is compelling evidence that male circumcision reduces the risk of heterosexually acquired HIV infection in men by approximately 60 percent. Three randomised controlled trials have shown that male circumcision provided by well trained health professionals in properly equipped settings is safe.

Circumcision has also long been practised in our culture in different societies and has been conducted in a safe and appropriate manner.

The World Health Organisation and UNAIDS recommendations emphasise that male circumcision should be considered an efficacious intervention for HIV prevention in countries and regions with heterosexual epidemics, high HIV and low male circumcision prevalence.

Male circumcision provides only partial protection, and therefore should be only one element of a comprehensive HIV prevention package which includes:

l the provision of HIV testing and counselling services;

l treatment for sexually transmitted infections;

l the promotion of safer sex practices;

l the provision of male and female condoms and promotion of their correct and consistent use.

In my view abstinence and behavioural change are integral in fighting this scourge.

Situations differ though of how people end up contracting the disease hence all these other methods are being advanced.

RB: How old is your son and was he circumcised?

FM: I believe my son is still too young to be in the public domain but he is now five years old.

l [email protected]

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