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Rite of Passage For My Youngest

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Written by   32
9 months ago
Topics: Traditions, Life, Family

I am holding this brochure from a locally well-known faith based organisation asking me to give them $100 and my fourteen year old son accompanied with a few essentials for two weeks and they are promising to bring him back as a man.

Honestly, I digress.

I mean who can turn a young boy into a man within two weeks of him getting circumcised and systematically covering ten largely irrelevant topics that have nothing to do with him as a man but here we are.

Why do it then you might wonder.

In Africa, majority of communities have been practicing the oldest planned surgical procedure for eons. What physician Remondino suggested began as a less severe form of emasculating a captured enemy -over castration- in his 1891 work, 'History of Circumcision' would become among our traditions as the Bantu people. The famous Maasais are among those who embraced circumcision as a rite of passage too. This was after adopting the culture from the travelling Jews and Muslims. Ancient Egyptians and the Semites were the first cultures to practice the procedure but they too practiced it mainly on religious grounds.

Many people of the African origin especially the Sub-Saharan region made this adopted way of life a crucial part of their traditions as a young boy exits childhood to manhood. This usually takes place when they are thirteen to sixteen or when they are done with primary school.

If it was the early days, I am meant to build him a 'house' next to mine in the homestead. He wouldn't be allowed back in my house for any reason other than food. He would be being cared for by the person specifically chosen to take him to the river. That is where young warriors were made in my day.


Rivers dried up and those that didn't were replaced by organisations like the one asking to turn my child into a man. But because traditions are still in play, he can't afford to visit the nearest health facility and come back home. We (my bantu folks) believe that it is a taboo for me as his mother to see him in that state until he heals his wounds. He ain't allowed to be around his sister either.

In the spirit of not defying my ancestors, I have to agree to what the brochure says.

He is to be delivered to the facility by his older brother and a family friend on Saturday at 2pm then left there for two weeks as he and boys his age are 'transformed into men.' As a mother, I don't like it one bit but as a woman who has grown up in this part of the world, I get why it is necessary.

Believe or not, somehow, I am helping safeguard his self-confidence and esteem for his future. Here, any uncircumcised man will tell you that living in fear is real. They will tell you how hard it is for anyone to go through high school. Young souls are bullied and subjected to nonsensical humiliation due to being disgraded. Or seen as less of a 'man'. Here, a man who didn't face the knife is coward and the treatment he gets especially from the same women he's to choose a wife from, is the worst.

We have put so much relevance in shedding the foreskin of a male genitalia that I don't think it serves the same purpose our ancestors had in mind anymore.

But I will still gladly cough up the hundred dollars and add close to fifty more to get him what he requires for those two weeks and stitch a fake smile on my face as I watch him go be that man they are promising then I will go back home and wait for my child because he will still be my child when he returns. Wish me luck!

wambuku w.

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Written by   32
9 months ago
Topics: Traditions, Life, Family
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