coming of age rituals in africa

It is usually done to young girls between 14 and 16 to prepare them for marriage. They signify different aspects of life within the continent like achieving a new status on the social ladder or coming of age etc. Subscribe to 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. 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 Guinea-Bissau, Johnson says, many boys are now circumcised in the hospital at an early age. Ritual Killing. Their descendants moved to present day South Afri… 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. This has since been criminalized in many countries. While many traditions promote social cohesion and unity, others wear down the physical and psychological health and integrity of individuals, especially women and girls. 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). 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. Fun fact - This ceremony is still being held in certain parts of Nigeria. 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. 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. It is usually carried out under the … Boys of the Barabaig tribe in East Africa, on reaching puberty have to … They can be found around Congo (Kinshasa), Rwanda, and Burundi. The alternative rituals have met with varying degrees of success. What is the value of learning about the harvest and traditional life cycles if you are a computer programmer?”. 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. It will deal with a comprehensive interpretation of ritual and their meaning or meanings. 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.”. We embrace the local traditions of our homes and the coming of age ceremony for boys is certainly a hallmark. It is usually done to young girls between 14 and 16 to prepare them for marriage. You really don’t have to look far in Japan to locate … 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. Eyewitness? 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. Young Maasai warriors must prove their courage by hunting lions with only a spear. As Africa continues along the bumpy road of social change, these forces will only get stronger. Botched circumcisions by traditional surgeons have led to highly publicized deaths and injuries. This happens when a girl’s first menses appears. How the various ethnic groups meet these challenges may well determine the ultimate future of these traditional rites of passage. Fertility. 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… Circumcision & Coming of Age Ritual "Going to the Bush is a Xhosa ritual where boys in South Africa are initiated into manhood. 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. 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. The clitoris is believed to be a male remnant that must be cut away to make a girl a complete woman. Hounen Matsuri Fertility Festival, Japan. Similarly, the male foreskin is seen as a female remnant that must be removed to make a true man. In any case, the bonds that develop between initiates during the period of seclusion and trial usually last a lifetime. 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. At the end of the initiation, these masks are displayed to the community. 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.”. These ordeals reflect the belief that pain is an important part of becoming an adult. 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 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. The traditional length of seclusion varies from a period of days or weeks to several years. In the Brazilian … 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. She first examines some traditional tribal customs commonly performed in South America, Africa, Australia, and the United States. 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. These complex cultural underpinnings have created a situation in which even women who say they are against the practice often perpetuate it. 4. 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. Coming-of-age ceremonies, known as seijin shiki, are held on the second Monday of January. “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. separation from the community, a period of transition or liminality and reincorporation into society. They were also seen as more fertile. 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 prevalence varies from country to country and between ethic groups and geographic regions within countries. 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. Depending on the ethnic group, these trials may involve physical marking such as circumcision or other body scarification without the use of anesthesia. COMING OF AGE. 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. My Real Scandinavia website contains original articles about travel, culture, and history in Scandinavia, with occasional information related to the greater Nordic area. 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. 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. 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. 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…. 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. “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. 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. A number of health risks are associated with FGC, particularly for the more severe forms of the procedure. By Kristina Rodulfo Various tribes in Niger Delta states practice the iria ritual. 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. Why yes, I am describing the 21st birthday of the average, American young adult. 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. 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. 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. 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. From birth to death, these rites of passage regulate and give expression to meaningful changes in people's lives. “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. The whole community then partakes in the rest of the Elima festivities. 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. 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. Various cultures all over the world have certain practices to mark the transition from childhood to adulthood. 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. 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