17 May 2017

Namibia: Artists Give 'Smart Cut' Thumbs Up

Contemporary musician Tulonga 'Shotgun' Josef says his career was not just about fame and fortune, but also about setting a healthy example for fellow Namibians.

'Shotgun' was at Swakopmund yesterday as part of a 'Smart Cut' show with The Dogg in an ongoing campaign promoting voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) at the town.

The Ministry of Health and Social Services has launched a VMMC roadshow, which will be touring various regions over the next month. The ministry's mobilisation teams were stationed at several locations around the coastal town, handing out pamphlets and posters, and inviting men to be circumcised for free.

VMMC is a recommended strategy to combat HIV infection in highly affected countries. Evidence, according to health minister Bernard Haufiku, has shown that VMMC reduces the spread of HIV by almost 60%. For this reason, Namibia has included the procedure (dubbed the 'smart cut') in the national combination strategy to combat the spread of HIV-AIDS.

'Shotgun' told The Namibian yesterday that he had his smart cut in 2015, even before the VMMC campaign was launched last year, hoping that it would encourage other men to do the same as soon as possible.

"It was a conviction I felt. After much reading and watching the news, I learned of the benefits, and thought that it is only a good thing. By doing so, I can show fellow Namibian men there is nothing wrong with it, and it's not even dangerous or painful. It's a smart move. I even wrote a campaign song for it," he noted.

According to him, many Namibian ethnic groups already practised circumcision, and therefore it should not be too difficult to get the message out.

"Although I always play safe, this makes me feel safer. By getting the smart cut, one is playing safe," he said.

Four young men sitting near the Woermann Brock parking lot at Mondesa, where the campaign was being announced, told this newspaper that they had all been circumcised.

All said the role of musicians and artists like 'Shotgun' and 'The Dogg' had in fact convinced them to go for the smart cut.

"It's safe, and there is no more foreskin for the germs to hide. We must still be careful, but this is important so that we do not get infected with HIV," said Joshua Ndemulo.

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