coming of age rituals in africa

Fertility. They were also seen as more fertile. 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 … 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 Arabs crossed into North Africa in the 7th century AD. 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 signify different aspects of life within the continent like achieving a new status on the social ladder or coming of age etc. Rituals are an integral part of the African culture. 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.”. In any case, the bonds that develop between initiates during the period of seclusion and trial usually last a lifetime. 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. 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. 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… First, the boys must give away everything that they own. 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. Here are some of the most bizarre taboo rituals of Africa. As they enter the adult world during their teenage years, African youngsters undergo a variety of initation rituals. Each year the ceremony is marked with beautiful outfits, music and wonderful traditional cuisine. 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. They have mixed feelings. Infinitus Possibilis. 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. In Eastern Cape, South Africa, young Xhosa men take part in a coming of age initiation called Ulwaluko. 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. In the secular sphere, it is celebrated in democratic countries by the granting of the right to vote to persons upon the attainment of a certain age. For example, ritual masks were traditionally a way to connect with particular spirits.”You would harness that spirit to serve the community,” says Frazier. “Lots of people are living in the city, and people are not as tied to the village,” Frazier points out. ... See below a video of Maasai women dancing during Elatim – celebrating their traditions the way they have done for centuries. How the various ethnic groups meet these challenges may well determine the ultimate future of these traditional rites of passage. Twa girls go through a rite of passage called 'Elima.' Note - These girls are expected to remain pure and avoid pregnancy before the initiation ceremony as this is considered as an abomination. Krono girls also undergo a final trial in which they are lowered several times onto a sacred stone in a test of their virginity. The prevalence varies from country to country and between ethic groups and geographic regions within countries. During the 17th century, European settlers came near the Cape of Good Hope. 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. The transition period often involves various tests and ordeals, many of them painful. 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. 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. This video shows the many steps young men and women pass through on their path to adulthood in the village of Dossi. 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) They don’t have time to bring in all those different values, those ideas for society,” says Frazier. 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. WHO classifies FGC into three different types according to severity: clitoridectomy (removal of the clitoral hood with or without removal of the clitoris), excision (removal of the clitoris as well as all or part of the labia minora) and infibulation (removal of part or all of the external genitalia, including the clitoris, labia minora and labia majora, followed by the stitching of the vaginal opening to leave only a small hole for urine and menstrual flow). During the transition period, initiates learn the skills necessary to participate in society as adults. 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. During the winter break from school a group of initiates go into the bush accompanied by an older man. Many different languages, religions and types of economic activities developed on this continent. “What would previously have been done in that period of six months to two years they’re now doing over spring break. 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 … Once the girls are done learning, they come out dancing, eligible for marriage. 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. You really don’t have to look far in Japan to locate … Why yes, I am describing the 21st birthday of the average, American young adult. My Real Scandinavia website contains original articles about travel, culture, and history in Scandinavia, with occasional information related to the greater Nordic area. The girls were fattened up because "bigger" brides were considered more beautiful. 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. After the festival, the newly initiated women are showered with gifts like cash, jewelry, clothes and cooking utensils. Circumcision & Coming of Age Ritual "Going to the Bush is a Xhosa ritual where boys in South Africa are initiated into manhood. Ritual Killing. 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. The planning for this ceremony itself takes two months. They are blessed by their tribal elders with milk and water. The Mende people live throughout Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea. Male circumcision is common throughout Africa while female “circumcision,” or female genital cutting (FGC), varies in prevalence. Fun fact - This ceremony is still being held in certain parts of Nigeria. COMING OF AGE. This happens when a girl’s first menses appears. In the Brazilian … 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. In the Barabaig Culture of East Africa, boys get their faces scarred. 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. 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. Video: Maasai coming of age ceremony. 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. 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. 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. These complex cultural underpinnings have created a situation in which even women who say they are against the practice often perpetuate it. Young women also have coming-of-age ceremonies 'umemulo'. In 2006, a 15-year-old Kenyan girl died after trying to perform FGC on herself. Nigerians see it as a sign of disrespect and disgusting to greet, eat, hand over, or … Similarly, the male foreskin is seen as a female remnant that must be removed to make a true man. 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 South Africa, where FGC is not practiced, serious issues related to male initiations have prompted the government to introduce legislation requiring initiation schools to be licensed and regulating the conditions under which circumcisions may be performed. 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 Maasai warriors must prove their courage by hunting lions with only a spear. At the end of their stay in the fattening room, their bodies are painted in different colours for the dance. It is usually done to young girls between 14 and 16 to prepare them for marriage. Non-religiously, there are secular transitions such as graduations, but they are not as celebratory as the traditions of the African people. “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. 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. The Maasai are not the only tribe in Tanzania, and Africa as a whole, who have a strict social system and who practise circumcision. A portion of the female populations of Ivory Coast, Central African Republic, Kenya, Benin, Niger, Nigeria and Tanzania also maintain the practice. 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. 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. 4. 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.”. For the Maasai of East Africa, circumcision represents the beginning of adulthood for both boys and girls. 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. “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. 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. 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. 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. Their descendants moved to present day South Afri… separation from the community, a period of transition or liminality and reincorporation into society. Across the world, communities mark major transitions in life through celebrations and ceremonies. 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. 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. From birth to death, these rites of passage regulate and give expression to meaningful changes in people's lives. 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. These are just two examples of the elaborate coming-of-age rituals with which traditional societies throughout Africa have marked the passage from childhood to adulthood. Submit your stories now via social or: Pulse NG is Nigeria's new media publisher. 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. 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. Various cultures all over the world have certain practices to mark the transition from childhood to adulthood. 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. Boys of the Barabaig tribe in East Africa, on reaching puberty have to … “When they go through initiation they are having all sorts of problems because it doesn’t fit their lifestyles. 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. They also learnt certain songs. Various tribes in Niger Delta states practice the iria ritual. 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. Horsemen take part in the Durbar festival parade in Zaria, Nigeria September 14, 2016. At the end of the initiation, these masks are displayed to the community. The alternative rituals have met with varying degrees of success. Islam came early to West Africa and, in most places, mixed with traditional African animistic beliefs to create a syncretic form of the religion that is quite different from its more orthodox forms. 24/7 live news & videos, Young girls ready to undergo the rite of passage (hubafrique). “You know it, society knows it, and you are prepared for the tasks at hand and all the different situation because you go through a training process to learn all your new roles in society.” Without undergoing initiation, a person, no matter what age, will not be considered a full adult. The clitoris is believed to be a male remnant that must be cut away to make a girl a complete woman. Then, on the day of the ceremony, the boys shave their heads and paint their faces with white chalk. privacy policy and our European users to our data transfer policy. “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. Male circumcision is getting safer and safer. “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. 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. Then, on the day of the ceremony, the boys shave their heads and paint their faces with white chalk. 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. They were held in these rooms for 1-6 months. 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. 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. The hominid race was walked the land of Africa around 8 million to 5 million years ago. 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. First, the boys must give away everything that they own. 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. 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. By the 19th century the Arabs moved to East and Central Africa. The girls sing traditional songs that everyone has practiced. 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