5. Circumcision & Rites of Passage
Due to the long school holidays during Christmas, most Kenyan communities use the break as an opportunity to circumcise their boys.
In the Bukusu community, young male initiates are taken to the river at 3 a.m., where their bodies are smeared with mud – a process that is locally referred to as “khulonga.” The practice is considered to be a form of anesthesia and a way of cleansing the initiates.
On their way from the river, a traditional song called “sioyoya” is sung to which the boys must dance until they arrive at the circumcision site.
Women are not allowed anywhere near the site as it is believed to be a taboo. After the cut, the boys are taken to their respective houses, locally known as “likombe,” where they will stay until they heal.
Most initiation ceremonies take one to two weeks, after which the initiates are given time to relax and heal.
Since female genital mutilation is illegal in Kenya, girls are taken through other forms of initiation to mark the rite of passage. They usually gather in designated places where the elderly women of the community teach them the tenets of womanhood.