I'll back up Tem42's writeup above, with an example of circumcision in Philippine culture.
Circumcision is believed to have been practiced by our ancestors, before the Spanish conquest. Although the Catholic faith did not require circumcision (note that Judaism never did gain a significant foothold here), most boys are circumcised before puberty, at the ages of 8-13. It's also possible the Muslim influence contributed to this tradition.
It is a rite of passage, considered a mark of manhood.
The uncircumcised (called supot) are subject to ribbing from their peers; basically, anybody who hasn't gone through the pain of a circumcision isn't a "real man" yet (with the implied belief that circumcised men are better in bed). Those who have their circumcision done traditionally (described below) generally have bragging rights over those who wimped out and went to a clinic. Locals also believe that a boy won't get any taller if he is uncircumcised, or that he won't achieve full sexual development (i.e., won't grow hair). The few uncircumcised adult men in standard Philippine society will almost never admit to it.
It isn't a religious ritual; here it's more like getting your ears pierced. It's something you do when you can't stand the peer pressure anymore.
The pagtutuli is an operation traditionally performed by the local albularyo (herbalist). A labaha, or straight razor is the traditional tool; the foreskin is gripped, placed under the blade, and the blade is hammered down with a handy piece of wood. The patient is given leaves from the guava tree (dahon ng bayabas) to chew while the operation is performed; these leaves are also boiled in water, and the hot mixture poured over the wound to disinfect it (although other herbs can be used). A boy walking around wearing a loose skirt (borrowed from mother or a sister) is a sign that he has just gotten his tuli.
These days, of course, we just go to the local clinic at the appropriate time. There is a superstition that if a female witnesses the actual operation, the wound may get infected (termed pangangamatis, due to the tomato-like color of an infected member), although many disregard this belief, especially if you get a cute nurse.
I have no idea of practices in South Africa, but I have never heard of any cases where the penis was permanently damaged due to circumcision. The occasional infection is expected (of me and my two brothers, only one suffered from pangangamatis, and only because he refused to let the hot water touch his skin...) but competent medical care for minor infection is usually available, if not an actual doctor, then the local albularyos, who usually know several different herbs that can be used to combat infection.
Bonus circumcision joke (translated from Tagalog):
Girl: Hey, I hear you're getting circumcised. Could I have the skin?
Boy: Why? What for?
Girl: I'm going to make myself a coin purse.
Boy: Why the skin?
Girl: So if I rub it, it'll grow into a handbag...