Tumbukas in Rumphi resist circumcision as Thyolo men cut foreskins en masse

Health officials in Rumphi have described religious and cultural beliefs as a set back to Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) program in the district as men as refusing to cut their foreskins, saying VMMC is not in line with Tumbuka culture and that it part of Islamic belief not Christian.

Medical male circumcision as part of its HIV prevention strategy

Rumphi nutrition and HIV/Aids officer, Blessings Kanyangale said the development has made the hospital to reduce their target.

“Circumcision is being regarded as sin to the Tumbuka culture. Some men also said it is against their religious belief but suitable for Muslims. Men are shunning circumcision because of these two things,” said Kanyangale.

“Imagine, in 2013 we planned to circumcise 2, 569 across the district but out of the figure only 914 men were circumcised. So, for the year 2017-2018 we reduced the figure,” he disclosed.

Exective Director for National Aids Commission (NAC), Davie Kalomba said the trend is not strange because circumcision is a new phenomenon in some cultures but ask the hospital to organize mass sensitization campaign.

Despite the claim, some traditional leaders have accused the hospital officials for failing to sensitize the community especially on the important of circumcision.

“Some men are indeed saying that but it is because of ignorance. The hospital is failing to go around the area educating men on its important,” said some chiefs.

Rumphi District is also known for some cultural practices that fuel the spread of HIV. Among them are Chihalo in which a man is allowed to inherit her deceased brother’s wife and Vithulo where parents-in-law send teams of people—young and old—to visit each other. During such events, they drink and dance all night long.

Studies show VMCC reduces chances of HIV infections by 60 percent.

Elsewhere,  Malawi News Agency reports that  Thyolo district has surpassed half of the targeted clients it intended to reach during the circumcision campaign.

Coordinator for VMMC for Thyolo Andrew Chamdula has said the  campaign which started two years ago, has seen more young men accessing the VMMC service. The campaign is been supported by JHPIEGO.

“Despite some challenges, like shortage of circumcision kits, we have managed to reach 8900 clients against the target of 10,000. The response from the communities has been overwhelming and encouraging,” Chamdula is quoted as saying.

Chamdula said the high turn up was a clear indication that communities took heed of the messages the district council disseminated to the communities on the importance of VMMC.

He observed that some districts are not doing well in VMMC because of the myths surrounding circumcision.

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Hugh Young

The people are right to reject genital cutting, regardless of religion. The foreskin is a valuable sensory organ of the penis. The reduction in HIV is debatable and even if true, not complete enough to justify doing it. For example it may actually INcrease the risk to women, who are already at greater risk. If it means men use condoms less (and it will, both because it makes men think they are immune, and because without a foreskin they need more stimulation), then HIV will also increase.

Bristone Mabichi

Stupid and silly exercise. Why campaigning for such tilse vulga? The men of Rumphi are right to refuse and every man in Malawi should refuse this exercise which add no value to anything the country will do. VIVA Rumphi!!

chris nichols

Christianity was founded on its opposition to circumcision – which it regarded as blasphemy against God, His Creation, and Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross. This fundamental tenet of the Christian faith was established almost 2000 years ago, at the Council of Jerusalem, AD 50.

chris nichols

In theory, Christians do not circumcise – as established by the Council of Jerusalem in the year AD 50. But in practice, there are heretical sects (here, there and everywhere) which can’t resist the compulsion to mutilate their own genitals, or the genitals of others. Historically, circumcision is considered blasphemy against God, His Creation, and Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross.

CORRECTION: Chihalo or kuhala was stopped by traditional leaders some twenty years ago. These days if a wife or husband passes away the other will live alone for ever. Yes, there could be one or two cases in whole huge communities and these in research we call Outliers. Secondly vithulo refers to a case where a boy or a man has impregnated a girl and the family of the girl bundles up the girls and ‘kukamuthulira’ the boy that girl. It has nothing to do with dancing the night away. What the author may have wanted to say is Chiona… Read more »
Hlabezulu Ngonoonda

Ungwelu, thanks for the correction on Chihalo and Vithulo. In the latter I have heard of parents of an impregnated girl in northern Malawi taking such measures. At first, the impression was that may be the parents were just angry or annoyed, not knowing its part of their culture to leave the responsibility of taking care of the pregnant girl or woman in the hands of the boy or man.




Circumcision is for dull tribes that believe too much in kukwatana, especially those in the south. For stable-minded people in the centre and north, there is no need. Sex to these people is secondary – work, school and stability of mind matter more. Why should you remove the foreskin? If it was not a necessary part God would have removed it himself


The foreskin is ever dirty even though how much you try to clean it. It’s a source of cancer of the womb to the poor ladies married by such men. Circumcision is the cleanest way to go.

Hlabezulu Ngonoonda

No. The arm pit is ever dirty minutes after bathing. Not that part of the skin you have referred to. In the former, perfume is used to extinguish the bad odour. In the latter, as correctly explained by Tgsgsgsgsgsgsgs, water and soap is used for cleanliness! Finally there is no link between cancer and the skin in question. But produced medical report here so that everybody is convinced.

Not true, What is the use of soap and water.. this cancer thing is because of the food we eat and the these birth control methods.. These cancers in most cases is due to negative reaction to such things. why cancer now pomwe anthu tikusamba kwa mbiri kuposa kale. Kale anthu ankakwatana osasamba koma kunalibe zimenezi. Be warned!!!!! organizations will only promote the positives of their products…… not the negatives. I you do not want cancer ya chiberekero, use natural methods…… kale anthu ankakwanisa…. koma mibado yino. or else siya kukwatidwa. Imagine munthu kuyika chinthu pa mkono pomwepo kusiyiratu kusamba…..… Read more »

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