Note - These girls are expected to remain pure and avoid pregnancy before the initiation ceremony as this is considered as an abomination. “You’ve got social change that’s just wreaking havoc on traditional rituals,” Johnson reflects. The Mende women act as mentors as they prepare young Mende girls for the adult life in which they will act as wives, mothers, and … The whole community then partakes in the rest of the Elima festivities. 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… How the various ethnic groups meet these challenges may well determine the ultimate future of these traditional rites of passage. The Mende people live throughout Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea. Right Hand Only. A number of health risks are associated with FGC, particularly for the more severe forms of the procedure. 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. “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. Then, on the day of the ceremony, the boys shave their heads and paint their faces with white chalk. However, across Africa there are Islamic peoples who don’t practice female circumcision and there are non-Islamic people who do.”, For many African women, the practice is an essential part of womanhood. These girls also visit the fattening room where they are fed with foods like pounded yam mixed with pounded plantain and taught how to dance half-naked at the market square. During their stay, an older woman teaches the young girls about their history, how to be good wives, mothers and all it takes to be a Twa woman. The girls were fattened up because "bigger" brides were considered more beautiful. Testimonials “Working with Annika Hipple has been a joy. 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. Many initiations culminate with a supreme test. These new 'women' are adorned with very beautiful beads as they are shown off to single young men who select their prospective wives. By Kristina Rodulfo As they enter the adult world during their teenage years, African youngsters undergo a variety of initation rituals. In some places, they are required to stand bare-breast for the crowd to inspect them and check to see that their virginity is intact. Depending on the ethnic group, these trials may involve physical marking such as circumcision or other body scarification without the use of anesthesia. The rite concludes with a coming-out ceremony in which the girls are presented to the entire community as mature adults. What is the value of learning about the harvest and traditional life cycles if you are a computer programmer?”. They don’t have time to bring in all those different values, those ideas for society,” says Frazier. 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. COMING OF AGE. They were also seen as more fertile. Male circumcision is common throughout Africa while female “circumcision,” or female genital cutting (FGC), varies in prevalence. They signify different aspects of life within the continent like achieving a new status on the social ladder or coming of age etc. In Guinea-Bissau, Johnson says, many boys are now circumcised in the hospital at an early age. During the 17th century, European settlers came near the Cape of Good Hope. The Anlo-Ewe people are a subgroup of the Ewe people who live in southern Togo, southern Benin, southwest Nigeria, and south-eastern parts of the Volta Region of Ghana. They are blessed by their tribal elders with milk and water. 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. You really don’t have to look far in Japan to locate … 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. Young women also have coming-of-age ceremonies 'umemulo'. Circumcision is claimed to be symbolic of the cutting of the umbilical cord when the child is born to demonstrate a separation from childhood and … It is a unique moment of prayer, thanksgiving and joy to all the family members and the community at large. In the Brazilian … separation from the community, a period of transition or liminality and reincorporation into society. Anthopologist Ylva Hernlund, who has conducted extensive fieldwork in Gambia and had authored or edited numerous publications on FGC, notes that in many places, coming-of-age rituals still take place that have nothing to do with circumcision while in other parts of the continent, especially in the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia), circumcisions are performed on both boys and girls without any ritual context at all. Sierra Leonean-American anthropologist Fuambai Ahmadu, who underwent excision as part of her initiation into Bundu, the secret women’s society of the Kono people, has criticized the tendency of Western observers to view FGC as a reflection of women’s oppression by patriarchal societies. The Arabs crossed into North Africa in the 7th century AD. 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. 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. 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. 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. After undergoing these rites of passage, both sexes are prepared for the responsibilities of adulthood and are allowed and expected to participate in society in fundamentally different ways. 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. Unlike in many Western societies, where the boundary between childhood and adulthood is often blurred, traditional African rites of passage mark an unambiguous transition with an associated change of status, roles and responsibilities. Once there they must build a hut and kill a lamb. The girls sing traditional songs that everyone has practiced. 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. 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.”. 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. 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. 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. Each year the ceremony is marked with beautiful outfits, music and wonderful traditional cuisine. The clitoris is believed to be a male remnant that must be cut away to make a girl a complete woman. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 100 million to 140 million girls and women worldwide, 91.5 million of them in Africa, have undergone FGC, with another 3 million undergoing the procedure every year. 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. In our society, coming of age is often defined religiously as a Quinceñera, a Confirmation, and a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. Female initiation rituals are, in general, thought of as being smaller and less dramatic than males' and tied more closely to the individual's onset of puberty. 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. Subscribe to Circumcision & Coming of Age Ritual "Going to the Bush is a Xhosa ritual where boys in South Africa are initiated into manhood. The traditional length of seclusion varies from a period of days or weeks to several years. 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. The planning for this ceremony itself takes two months. “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. Coronavirus - Sierra Leone: COVID-19 update (15 January 2021), Key battles in Liverpool's Man Utd showdown, Coronavirus - Gambia: COVID-19 update (15 January 2021), 76-yr-old Yoweri Museveni re-elected as Ugandan President for 6th term. The Sateré-Mawé Coming Of Age Tradition: Bullet Ant Initiation. Their descendants moved to present day South Afri… 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. In addition, a stricter form of Islam, more similar to that practiced in the Middle East, has recently spread across the region, leading to new changes in traditional rituals. This video shows the many steps young men and women pass through on their path to adulthood in the village of Dossi. 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. “What would previously have been done in that period of six months to two years they’re now doing over spring break. This has since been criminalized in many countries. It is usually done to young girls between 14 and 16 to prepare them for marriage. 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. We embrace the local traditions of our homes and the coming of age ceremony for boys is certainly a hallmark. 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. My Real Scandinavia website contains original articles about travel, culture, and history in Scandinavia, with occasional information related to the greater Nordic area. Similarly, the male foreskin is seen as a female remnant that must be removed to make a true man. Among the Kono, Ahmadu notes, the cutting is being performed on girls as young as toddlers “in the fear that these children may forever forgo their Kono identities, either because of intensifications and aggressiveness of eradication campaigns or because they may wind up as refugess in other, possibly Western countries as a result of dislocation caused by war.”. Ahmadu argues that most Kono women willingly perpetuate the ritual because they see it as a way to preserve female sources of power and authority, as well as promote characteristics such as strength, tenacity, endurance and fearlessness in young women. In the first stage, young boys or girls are physically removed from the community and taken to the “bush,” which may be fully separate from the village or may be a special enclosure or specific building in the community. Here, the traditional puberty rites for females is known as Nugbeto. 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. In the walkabout, adolescent Aborigine boys are sent to live in the wilderness for as long … 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. 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. Fun fact - This ceremony is still being held in certain parts of Nigeria. Walkabout. Eyewitness? This happens when a girl’s first menses appears. Nigerians see it as a sign of disrespect and disgusting to greet, eat, hand over, or … The Bundu mask is an essential part of the coming of age of Mende girls. 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…. “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. 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. 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. By the 19th century the Arabs moved to East and Central Africa. 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 planning for this ceremony itself takes two months. After the festival, the newly initiated women are showered with gifts like cash, jewelry, clothes and cooking utensils. The hominid race was walked the land of Africa around 8 million to 5 million years ago. Many different languages, religions and types of economic activities developed on this continent. 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. In Nigeria, young girls known as iriabo spend several weeks in “fattening rooms” being pampered and wearing copper coils around their legs to restrict movement as part of a ritual marking their official transition into womanhood. The health risks associated with unsanitary male circumcisions in traditional, non-sterile environments have led to the increasing medicalization of the practice throughout Africa, with more and more boys being circumcised in hospitals by trained medical personnel. A Horrifying Coming-of-Age in Somalia / A young woman's first-person account of cultural brutality REVIEWED BY CAMILLE HOWARD Jan. 15, 1995 Updated: Feb. 5, 2012 1:48 a.m. Infinitus Possibilis. 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. At the end of their stay in the fattening room, their bodies are painted in different colours for the dance. During the transition period, initiates learn the skills necessary to participate in society as adults. After exploring the three brutal rites boys go through to become men in Africa, we are taking a look at the following interesting coming-of-age rituals for young girls: Twa people, also called Batwa, are scattered across equatorial Africa. They also learnt certain songs. The Mandinka see initiation as intimately connected to the physical act of circumcision, which, in turn, is closely related to Islam. 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. After exploring the three brutal rites boys go through to become men in Africa, we are taking a look at the following interesting coming-of-age rituals for young girls: Elima (Twa) 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. They were held in these rooms for 1-6 months. 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. Twa girls go through a rite of passage called 'Elima.' 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. 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. They can be found around Congo (Kinshasa), Rwanda, and Burundi. “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. Young Maasai warriors must prove their courage by hunting lions with only a spear. Hospital at an early age meet these challenges may well determine the ultimate of... 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