coming of age rituals in africa

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This happens when a girl’s first menses appears. 10. The societal pressures on young girls can be intense. Hounen Matsuri Fertility Festival, Japan. “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. 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. 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. ALSO READ: 5 crazy sexual traditions that are still practised in Africa. “You’ve got social change that’s just wreaking havoc on traditional rituals,” Johnson reflects. 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. Twa girls go through a rite of passage called 'Elima.' In any case, the bonds that develop between initiates during the period of seclusion and trial usually last a lifetime. Eyewitness? They have mixed feelings. 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. Note - These girls are expected to remain pure and avoid pregnancy before the initiation ceremony as this is considered as an abomination. “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. “When they go through initiation they are having all sorts of problems because it doesn’t fit their lifestyles. 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. The transition period often involves various tests and ordeals, many of them painful. “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. Here are some of the most bizarre taboo rituals of Africa. 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. 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. 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) 24/7 live news & videos, Young girls ready to undergo the rite of passage (hubafrique). For example, ritual masks were traditionally a way to connect with particular spirits.”You would harness that spirit to serve the community,” says Frazier. They were also seen as more fertile. Ritual Killing. By clicking again, you agree to our During the 17th century, European settlers came near the Cape of Good Hope. 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. 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. As they enter the adult world during their teenage years, African youngsters undergo a variety of initation rituals. Circumcision & Coming of Age Ritual "Going to the Bush is a Xhosa ritual where boys in South Africa are initiated into manhood. You really don’t have to look far in Japan to locate … From birth to death, these rites of passage regulate and give expression to meaningful changes in people's lives. Various cultures all over the world have certain practices to mark the transition from childhood to adulthood. Harmful traditional practices (HTPs) exist in many different forms. 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. Once there they must build a hut and kill a lamb. Male circumcision is common throughout Africa while female “circumcision,” or female genital cutting (FGC), varies in prevalence. In the Barabaig Culture of East Africa, boys get their faces scarred. 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. 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. Some of the major HTPs […] This has since been criminalized in many countries. She first examines some traditional tribal customs commonly performed in South America, Africa, Australia, and the United States. 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. It is usually done to young girls between 14 and 16 to prepare them for marriage. The Bundu mask is an essential part of the coming of age of Mende girls. It is a unique moment of prayer, thanksgiving and joy to all the family members and the community at large. 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. 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. 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 also learnt certain songs. 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. How the various ethnic groups meet these challenges may well determine the ultimate future of these traditional rites of passage. Fun fact - This ceremony is still being held in certain parts of Nigeria. “What would previously have been done in that period of six months to two years they’re now doing over spring break. Here are six of the world’s coolest coming of age traditions that mark the wonderful passage from childhood into adulthood. 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. In many African communities, the popular practice for females used to be circumcision. This video shows the many steps young men and women pass through on their path to adulthood in the village of Dossi. 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. Why yes, I am describing the 21st birthday of the average, American young adult. The purpose of these operations is to create an unambiguous gender identity. 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. 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. Here, the traditional puberty rites for females is known as Nugbeto. 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. 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. The whole community then partakes in the rest of the Elima festivities. In South Africa, many ceremonies and celebrations are also ai… They can be found around Congo (Kinshasa), Rwanda, and Burundi. 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. By the 19th century the Arabs moved to East and Central Africa. My Real Scandinavia website contains original articles about travel, culture, and history in Scandinavia, with occasional information related to the greater Nordic area. A portion of the female populations of Ivory Coast, Central African Republic, Kenya, Benin, Niger, Nigeria and Tanzania also maintain the practice. Then, on the day of the ceremony, the boys shave their heads and paint their faces with white chalk. 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. Testimonials “Working with Annika Hipple has been a joy. Many initiations culminate with a supreme test. 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. 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. Video: Maasai coming of age ceremony. 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. Boys must endure the operation without flinching or crying out, while girls are allowed to show pain but cannot marry or bear legitimate children within Maasai society if they refuse to undergo the procedure. 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. 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. 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. 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. The prevalence varies from country to country and between ethic groups and geographic regions within countries. We embrace the local traditions of our homes and the coming of age ceremony for boys is certainly a hallmark. Though some people have advocated safer, more sanitary “circumcisions” for girls as well as boys, anti-FGC activists argue that medicalization would counteract efforts to abolish the procedure. In Guinea-Bissau, Johnson says, many boys are now circumcised in the hospital at an early age. 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. “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. 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. These new 'women' are adorned with very beautiful beads as they are shown off to single young men who select their prospective wives. Boys of the Barabaig tribe in East Africa, on reaching puberty have to … Depending on the ethnic group, these trials may involve physical marking such as circumcision or other body scarification without the use of anesthesia. 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. 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. COMING OF AGE. 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. … 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. 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. 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. In the Brazilian … 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 our society, coming of age is often defined religiously as a Quinceñera, a Confirmation, and a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. The planning for this ceremony itself takes two months. 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. 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… 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. Right Hand Only. 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. “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. What is the value of learning about the harvest and traditional life cycles if you are a computer programmer?”. 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