What follows is a modern story taken from the unlikely source of the Sidney (Australia) Morning Herald Travel Blog for Wednesday August 29, 2007. It describes the experience of a white man visiting a small African village, and being invited to a man-making ritual.
While in Uganda on a tour out to see the mountain gorillas a few years ago, we stopped off for a few nights in a tiny village called Sipi Falls, which is a fair way off the beaten tourist track. There we were quite a novelty, and easily got chatting to some of the locals.
Curious about the group of teenaged boys we'd seen marching through the streets in traditional dress, we asked a few people what was going on.
"Oh, it is our tradition," one man told us. "It is to mark their journey into manhood. Tomorrow they will all get ... How do you say it? Circumcised?"
Yes, circumcised ...
"Do you want to come along?"
How do you turn down an offer like that? So the next day a group of about six of us, clearly the only white people in the entire village, followed everyone else on a pilgrimage along dirt roads and through banana plantations, before arriving at the site of the ceremony, where, as the token mzungus in town, we were honored with a front row seat.
There, 10 boys lined up, naked, in front of the waiting crowds, and were circumcised by an elder. Standing, clutching a length of wood in front of them, not one cried out, or even flinched, instead fixing a steely gaze on the audience. One by one, as they were given a nod of approval by an elder, they raised the piece of wood above their heads and let out a triumphant scream, echoed by the crowd.We walked back to the campsite in silence.
What is the impact of this story on you?