This video shows the many steps young men and women pass through on their path to adulthood in the village of Dossi. Twa girls go through a rite of passage called 'Elima.' In the walkabout, adolescent Aborigine boys are sent to live in the wilderness for as long … Ritual songs, dances and masks or other artwork feature prominentaly in many initiation rites. Circumcision & Coming of Age Ritual "Going to the Bush is a Xhosa ritual where boys in South Africa are initiated into manhood. In international discourse, the issue of FGC, often known by the more emotionally and politically charged term “female genital mutilation” (FGM), has tended to engulf all other aspects of African initiation rituals. Botched circumcisions by traditional surgeons have led to highly publicized deaths and injuries. Clitoridectomy is the most common type, accounting for up to 80 percent of cases, while an estimated 15 percent of women who have undergone FGC have been infibulated, although in Djibouti, Somalia and the Sudan an estimated 80 to 90 percent of all “circumcised” women have undergone infibulation. “Westerners have stomped in and demanded that Africans be for or against it,” says Hernlund, adding that most Gambians she has worked with are “profoundly ambivalent. Harmful traditional practices (HTPs) exist in many different forms. In any case, the bonds that develop between initiates during the period of seclusion and trial usually last a lifetime. In addition, a WHO study found that babies born to mothers who had undergone FGC experienced higher death rates than those born to mothers who had not. In their book African Ceremonies (2002), Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher note that the Maasai “believe that the male or female youngster who undergoes the agony of such an ordeal with courage will be able to endure the challenges of life and uphold the proud reputation of the Maasai people.”. They also play a role in drawing attention both to the individual's emergence from childhood and the assumption of responsibilities associated with adult life. Young Inuit children are just 11 or 12 when they are sent out into the wild to fend for themselves amidst harsh arctic… They were held in these rooms for 1-6 months. “Lots of people are living in the city, and people are not as tied to the village,” Frazier points out. The rite concludes with a coming-out ceremony in which the girls are presented to the entire community as mature adults. Hernlund notes, “The main difference as far as the current status of the rituals goes is that for male circumcision there is no campaign, no laws against it, and medicalization. It is usually done to young girls between 14 and 16 to prepare them for marriage. We embrace the local traditions of our homes and the coming of age ceremony for boys is certainly a hallmark. This has since been criminalized in many countries. The question for female circumcision is, do you take the idealistic view that medicalization is legitimizing female circumcision or that it is harm reduction?”, The anti-FGC campaign has influenced the practice of initiations throughout Africa, and the Christian church has also worked to discourage traditional rites, with varying degrees of success. The Krobo of easten Ghana do not practice FGC; instead, they mark the back of an initiate’s hand with a tattoo of fine blue marks to symbolize her maturity and the completion of her ritual training. Once this special blessing occurs, the young is taken to a house where she stays secluded with other menstruating girls for at least a month. The Mende people live throughout Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea. In Ethiopia, Hamar boys complete the Jumping of the Bulls, a ritual in which they must leap over the backs of 20 to 40 bulls in order to demonstrate their manhood. For example, ritual masks were traditionally a way to connect with particular spirits.”You would harness that spirit to serve the community,” says Frazier. The Arabs crossed into North Africa in the 7th century AD. Though coming of age traditions vary drastically from culture to culture, nearly every society designates specific rituals, ceremonies, and traditions as a way to symbolize and celebrate the transition from child to adult. Rituals are an integral part of the African culture. Then, on the day of the ceremony, the boys shave their heads and paint their faces with white chalk. The Mandinka see initiation as intimately connected to the physical act of circumcision, which, in turn, is closely related to Islam. Here are six of the world’s coolest coming of age traditions that mark the wonderful passage from childhood into adulthood. Though coming of age traditions vary drastically from culture to culture, nearly every society designates specific rituals, ceremonies, and traditions as a way to symbolize and celebrate the transition from child to adult. Financial limitation have caused many rituals to become shorter of less frequent, while modernization means that the lives of African youth are now tied to school schedules rather than to the land, putting further constraints on the length of time that can be devoted to rites of passage. Maasai Moran. Their descendants moved to present day South Afri… In our society, coming of age is often defined religiously as a Quinceñera, a Confirmation, and a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. The transition from girl to woman in nomadic groups in East Africa takes place in an age-old, four-day ritual in which the girls are dressed in their finest clothes and adorned with their most beautiful jewelry. COMING OF AGE. For some groups, this change is so dramatic that the newly initiated aduly is given a new name and presented to the community as a different person. Note - These girls are expected to remain pure and avoid pregnancy before the initiation ceremony as this is considered as an abomination. Other articles where Coming-of-age rite is discussed: feast: Crucial stages of life: Puberty, the transition into adulthood, has been celebrated since ancient times by various rituals and festivals. Boys of the Amazon's Satere-Mawe tribe, on coming of age have to ritually wear gloves full of bullet ants to prove their power of masculinity to the tribe. These ordeals reflect the belief that pain is an important part of becoming an adult. In West Africa, however, women's coming-of-age rituals have often been elaborate and invested with layers of spiritual, social, cultural, and political significanc… “They’ve told me that for an uncircumcised woman, God doesn’t hear her prayers.”, Hernlund adds, “There are a lot of people who will say that male and efmale circumcision is Islamic, but other aspects of the rituals are not Islamic. The procedure is still practiced in 28 African countries, most located in a belt stretching across the continent at its widest point, from Senegal and Mauretania in the west to Somalia in the eats, with Egypt and Tanzania extending out from the belt to the north and south. The global perspective of turning 21: Coming of Age Rituals More often than not, the day starts with excitement and smiles, but ends in blurred memories and one gigantic headache. Ritual killing is an integral part of the African culture. Both coming-of-age rituals and circumcision are still widely practiced today but have frequently become separated from one another, even in places where they traditionally went hand in hand. At the ceremony, all of the men and women participating are brought to a government building and listen to many speakers, similar to a graduation ceremony. Subscribe to In the past several years, dozens of South African boys have died and scores of others have been hospitalized as a result of circumcision-related infections and other complications. My Real Scandinavia website contains original articles about travel, culture, and history in Scandinavia, with occasional information related to the greater Nordic area. Why yes, I am describing the 21st birthday of the average, American young adult. Senufo girls achieve womanhood through a ceremonial dance called the Ngoron, the steps of which can take up to six months to master, marking the culmination of the girls’ ritual training. During the transition period, initiates learn the skills necessary to participate in society as adults. Various tribes in Niger Delta states practice the iria ritual. In many African communities, the popular practice for females used to be circumcision. The Sateré-Mawé Coming Of Age Tradition: Bullet Ant Initiation. Non-religiously, there are secular transitions such as graduations, but they are not as celebratory as the traditions of the African people. The Bundu mask is an essential part of the coming of age of Mende girls. During a ritual period of seclusion, the girls are education on such topics as sex, HIV/AIDS, interpersonal skills, problem solving, religion, FGC, peer pressure and legal rights. This rite of passage is one of the most important Masai festivals - it marks the coming of age of Masai boys who are 12-25 years old. Eyewitness? The most important masks represent ancestral spirit forces that are believed to sanction the initiation and protect the youths during the ritual. These songs are sung on the final day when the girls traveled together down to the river while the Osokolo (senior male of the tribe) beat the women with a stick to ward off water spirits. Young women also have coming-of-age ceremonies 'umemulo'. “In 1997, women in Guinea-Bissau held the largest traditional circumcision in 20 years, as a backlash against government condemnation of the practice,” says Johnson, who has found in her research that women are usually the ones keeping the practice alive, often against the wishes of men. As Africa continues along the bumpy road of social change, these forces will only get stronger. “Islam is teaching that these spirits and this energy do not exist.”, The increasing modernization and globalization of African society are also having an impact. Here are some of the most bizarre taboo rituals of Africa. Grade 7-10-By examining puberty rites and coming-of-age ceremonies in various cultures, Liptak attempts to demonstrate some commonality among adolescents both within their own communities and around the world. In 2004, a young Xhosa man was beaten to death during a circumcision ritual, and two years later, another boy died from malnutrition after being isolated with his age mates in the mountains without food. It is usually done to young girls between 14 and 16 to prepare them for marriage. ... See below a video of Maasai women dancing during Elatim – celebrating their traditions the way they have done for centuries. Although the girl’s mother had refused to allow her to undergo the procedure, the girl had endured relentless teasing and name-calling from her age mates and finally decided to take matters into her own hand – with tragic results. Ahmadu’s research in Sierra Leone found that the period Kono girls and boys spend in the bush receiving practical, cultural and religious education has been reduced from several months or years to less than a month during school vacations. The whole community then partakes in the rest of the Elima festivities. The practice has been outlawed in many African countries, but until recently few efforts have been made to understand or change the cultural underpinnings of the practice. Various factors – the anti-FGC campaigns, the changing influence of Islam and Christianity, political upheaval, civil war, modernization, and financial and time constraints – have all had tremendous impacts on the practice of initiation rituals. After the festival, the newly initiated women are showered with gifts like cash, jewelry, clothes and cooking utensils. Among the AmaXhosa people of South Africa, male circumcision is referred to as “ ulwaluko.” It is considered a teachable moment that prepares boys for the enormous responsibilities of manhood. The emphasis placed on specific aspects of initiation varies greatly, with some ethnic groups placing greater importance on the physical tests of bravery and toughness, others emphasizing spiritual aspects, and still others focusing on practical education. The Maasai are not the only tribe in Tanzania, and Africa as a whole, who have a strict social system and who practise circumcision. Among the Krobo of eastern Ghana, girls are secluded from three weeks, during which they are trained in appropriate female behavior, personal grooming, domestic skills, dance and the art of seduction. These traditions reflect norms of care and behavior based on age, life stage, gender, and social class. The alternative rituals have met with varying degrees of success. Depending on the ethnic group, these trials may involve physical marking such as circumcision or other body scarification without the use of anesthesia. Video: Maasai coming of age ceremony. It will deal with a comprehensive interpretation of ritual and their meaning or meanings. “Women I have worked with have told me, ‘To be full Muslim persons, to be full Mandinka persons, full ethnic persons, we also have to be circumcised,’” Johnson says. Since 1994, when the African National Congress came to power, attempts have been made to transform this ceremony into a multi-cultural event, but these have not been entirely successful. For the Maasai of East Africa, circumcision represents the beginning of adulthood for both boys and girls. “Suffering is part of the development of personhood,” says Michelle Johnson, assistant professor of anthropology at Bucknell University, who has spent a decade conducting research on initiation rituals among the Mandinka people of Guinea-Bissau. This rite of passage is one of the most important Masai festivals - it marks the coming of age of Masai boys who are 12-25 years old. separation from the community, a period of transition or liminality and reincorporation into society. In Senegal, Bassari boys undergoing the Koré rite are taken into a sacred forest where they experience a symbolic death and a simulated return to infancy, a state of ritual purity from which they are reborn as mature members of the community. Various cultures all over the world have certain practices to mark the transition from childhood to adulthood. As a result, in many places the rituals have simply been driven underground or have been tacitly allowed to continue due to difficulties in enforcing the ban. Across the world, communities mark major transitions in life through celebrations and ceremonies. In 2006, a 15-year-old Kenyan girl died after trying to perform FGC on herself. A woman guarding a fattening room since only females are allowed to enter (HypeScience posted by Miguel Kramer), Join 10,000 others, get the latest African business trends, profiles and news straight to your inbox, three brutal rites boys go through to become men in Africa, 5 crazy sexual traditions that are still practised in Africa. Since 1979, a vocal movement, started by African women’s organizations and quickly taken up by health and human rights activists around the world, has been advocating for the abolition of FGC in all its forms. By the 19th century the Arabs moved to East and Central Africa. “When you come through the initiation process, you are officially a man or woman,” says John Frazier, assistant professor of humanities at the College of DuPage. The lessons are followed by a durbar (festival) where the rest of the community welcomes the newly initiated women into the society. The traditional length of seclusion varies from a period of days or weeks to several years. By clicking again, you agree to our During the 17th century, European settlers came near the Cape of Good Hope. 24/7 live news & videos, Young girls ready to undergo the rite of passage (hubafrique). According to WHO, “Immediate potential side effects include severe pain, hemorrhage, injury to the adjacent tissues and organs, shock, infection, urinary retention and tetanus….Long-term effects may include cysts and abscesses, urinary incontinence, psychological and sexual problems, and difficulty with childbirth.” For women who have been infibulated, severe labor complications can occur if the genitalia are not deinfibulated (opened) during delivery. Young women also have coming-of-age ceremonies 'umemulo'. You really don’t have to look far in Japan to locate … First, the boys must give away everything that they own. It is usually carried out under the … Each year the ceremony is marked with beautiful outfits, music and wonderful traditional cuisine. In parts of the continent, these traditions remain strong, while in others, changing social, economic and political conditions have had a profound influence on the extent to which these ceremonies are performed and the forms the rituals take. The societal pressures on young girls can be intense. Right Hand Only. Male circumcision is common throughout Africa while female “circumcision,” or female genital cutting (FGC), varies in prevalence. Initiation Rites and Rituals in African Cosmology Prof. Paul Kyalo School of Humanities and Social Sciences Mount Kenya University P.O Box 342-01000, Thika Kenya Abstract This essay is an analysis of the rituals in African cosmology. Iria ritual (Niger Delta states) Various tribes in Niger Delta states practice the iria ritual. The practice is almost universal in Egypt, Eritrea, Guinea, Mali and northern Sudan and is performed on the majority of women in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and Mauretania. Under the shadow of a snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro, hundreds of Maasai boys brave the morning chill to take part in a ritual that marks their coming of age. In some parts of the continent, notably Kenya and Gambia, African women’s groups, with funding from international organizations, are working to establish alternative rituals that revive the cultural elements of initiation but circumcise girls cymbolically rather than with a knife. Here are six of the world’s coolest coming of age traditions that mark the wonderful passage from childhood into adulthood. Young Maasai warriors must prove their courage by hunting lions with only a spear. Walkabout. In the Kuria district of Kenya, 289 girls attended the first alternative rituals in the 2004-05 season, but once they returned home, all but 80 of these girls were pressured into undergoing FGC after all. Some parents who oppose FGC for their daughters do not see the value of the alternative rituals while others see them a an important way of bringing back many of the cultural traditions that had been disappearing. These complex cultural underpinnings have created a situation in which even women who say they are against the practice often perpetuate it. By Kristina Rodulfo The purpose of these operations is to create an unambiguous gender identity. Even more so than the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies here and in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, the deadly mall attack — a four-day siege that began on Saturday and resulted in at least 60 deaths — is a reminder of Kenya’s coming of age. This happens when a girl’s first menses appears. After completion of the isolation period, the initiates return to the community as fully fledged adults and are reintegrated through a public ceremony and celebration. A number of health risks are associated with FGC, particularly for the more severe forms of the procedure. Fertility. Since 1994, when the African National Congress came to power, attempts have been made to transform this ceremony into a multi-cultural event, but these have not been entirely successful. Why yes, I am describing the 21st birthday of the average, American young adult. They have mixed feelings. South Africa's Coming-of-Age Ceremonies Continue to Claim More Lives This winter's initiation season has already claimed the lives of 18 young men. The Senufo of Ivory Coast initiate girls into the secret women’s society of Poro through a process that lasts for a period of seven or eight years. They can be found around Congo (Kinshasa), Rwanda, and Burundi. The Koran specifies that men must be circumcised; for women, the connection to official Islamic doctrine is less clear, but according to Johnson’s research, most Mandinka women see the practice of female genital cutting in a similar way. They signify different aspects of life within the continent like achieving a new status on the social ladder or coming of age etc. Here, the traditional puberty rites for females is known as Nugbeto. This doesn't mean that women don't have it rough - many coming of age rituals for girls are very physically demanding, like Na'ii'ees or the Apache Sunrise Ceremony, or the downright horrible ones like the Sunna circumcision or female genital mutilation practiced in many parts of Africa. Nina Laudon Troy AP Literature March 12, 2014 Coming of Age Rituals in Africa Africa is a vast continent, home to different cultures and religions, different languages and foods, but across Africa the prerequisite to adulthood appears to be circumcision for both sexes. The rites involve learning about sex, birth control, motherhood, what it takes to maintain a good marriage and other aspects of womanhood from very respected women. In Guinea-Bissau, Johnson says, many boys are now circumcised in the hospital at an early age. The girls were fattened up because "bigger" brides were considered more beautiful. Among the Nkanu people of Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, specialized sculptors create masks, figures and carved panels that are used to educate initiates about symbolic meaning, appropriate and inappropriate behavior and other adult knowledge. Ritual Killing. In South Africa, many ceremonies and celebrations are also ai… The prevalence varies from country to country and between ethic groups and geographic regions within countries. privacy policy and our European users to our data transfer policy. A portion of the female populations of Ivory Coast, Central African Republic, Kenya, Benin, Niger, Nigeria and Tanzania also maintain the practice. African coming-of-age rituals have traditionally been seen as consisting of three main phases: separation from the community, a period of transition or liminality and reincorporation into society. “What would previously have been done in that period of six months to two years they’re now doing over spring break. At the end of the initiation, these masks are displayed to the community. Ahmadu notes, “It is incumbent on mothers to initate their daughters properly, according to ancestral customs, in order for the latter to become legally recognized as persons with rights and responsibilities in society.”. What is the value of learning about the harvest and traditional life cycles if you are a computer programmer?”. The hominid race was walked the land of Africa around 8 million to 5 million years ago. For many African ethnic groups, such as the Kono of Sierra Leone and the Dogon and Bamana of Mali, genital cutting reflects traditional beliefs about gender and duality. It’s a difficult issue.” Many women are caught between wanting to end the practice and not wanting their daughters to be the odd ones out. In the Barabaig Culture of East Africa, boys get their faces scarred. Male circumcision is getting safer and safer. Submit your stories now via social or: Pulse NG is Nigeria's new media publisher. 4. 12 Captivating Coming of Age Ceremonies From Around the World See how young women in Indonesia, Ghana, the Philippines, and more countries get inducted into adulthood. “The older generation sees this as a serious issue, not being able to deliver what society needs in an effective format.”, Even as many cultural aspects of initiation have fallen away, circumcision has not, and the age at which the procedure is performed has been decreasing throughout Africa. 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