In Pictures: From boy to man - rite of passage in the spotlight
Though many boys have died in the past, the government promotes the practice as key in the fight against HIV/Aids
Tens of thousands of young boys take part in traditional initiation ceremonies each year, with circumcision being performed by traditional healers.
It's estimated more than half of the boys in their teens undergo circumcision in initiation schools and the government has promoted the practice as key in the fight against HIV/Aids.
The initiation season is in mid-winter. It has attracted much controversy in the past decade because of the high number of fatalities as a result of botched circumcisions and other enforced hardships, including beatings.
An official commission of inquiry found 400 boys died and 500,000 were hospitalised after attending winter initiation schools between 2008 and 2013, with a major cause being complications from infection after circumcision.
The rite of passage into adulthood usually follows a bush retreat of two to four weeks and is widely seen as a test of physical endurance.
It has attracted much controversy in the past decade because of the high number of fatalities as a result of botched circumcisions
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