Friday, June 17, 2016


The nuns at the convent nearby invited us to a Maasai circumcision celebration on Saturday afternoon. Their parish encompasses a large part of the Sinya area. This was a celebration of the circumcision of three teenage boys.  (It appears that Tanzania has outlawed female circumcision, although we understand that, occasionally, it still occurs.) We understand that the night before the circumcision, the boys dance until all hours so that the blood moves away from the genital area.  Then, the next morning, the boys are circumcised.  Then they are taken to a hut to rest and recover while the community around them celebrates.

The celebration took place at the home of one of the boys.  The father is a community leader.  He lives in a house – as distinct from a boma – with a fair amount of land around it.  Some men were dressed in traditional Maasai attire while others wore Western clothing. The women were dressed in their best. The women from the families of the circumcised boys were dressed in traditional attire with sequins and bangles. One young woman wore a beaded headpiece that almost completely covered her face, traditionally intended to attract a young man. The women went into the cow pen to do traditional dances that involve jumping and singing. All three of the nuns joined them, and the women put the traditional beaded necklaces on two of the sisters while they danced. The students also joined in the dancing.

Then the women moved en mass to the hut where the circumcised boys rested.  There were three long tree branches outside of the hut to signify each of the boys who were circumcised. The women danced around and with those branches.  We were able to enter the hut, where a fire burned to keep the boys warm, to visit the boys as they rested.  They looked like they were in pain.

In addition to soda, the drinks served were bottled beer and a home brew made of honey and water and fermented for a month. There also was food, although we arrived too late to have any. We saw several drunk men, and one or two of them came on to the students. Fortunately, the BECA women know how to handle that situation.

We felt fortunate to attend the circumcision celebration, another amazing experience!

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