The Recent Rite of Passage #TheAftermath

This post stems from the disorientation I have undergone for ten days after the rite of passage.

After half heartedly taking my fourteen year old son through an old practice to please our ancestors, yesterday, he was brought back home. It had been ten days of nothing but unexplainable fatigue. I am sure I felt like there were cutting something from my body too.

I keep saying that parenting ones young is like having a phantom umbilical cord dangling in the air acting like a forever link wherever they go. This translates into feeling their pain or at least catching the uneasiness of its effect on them.

The day yesterday started early as at 9am, I was already in the cooking his favourite meal, hoping and wishing that the aroma of my wet chicken pilau and some deep fried potato wedges would remind him of home. Of love. Of anything less traumatising than the ordeal he has underwent.


When he got home, he dropped his bathing bucket at the door and ran into my arms. He reminded me that I was missed and how much I am loved. What broke my heart is how it was quickly followed by a firm, 'Mama, I didn't cry one bit. It was painful but I didn't cry' yet I somehow instinctively could hear his bones singing gloriously for finding themselves in my embrace.

I wanted to say that it was okay to cry and that I myself might have secretly done so over it but his eldest brother's response swept in fast and shadowed mine. I am proud to hear you didn't cry little brother. As my jaws flung wide open with my tongue burning to free a disappointed what do you think you are portraying as his elder brother, my mind sort of dashed back in December 2014 when he himself underwent it too.

They must've been fed that recycled myth that real men have zero vulnerability emissions. That beards replace a man's tears and sensitivity. So much for transitioning boys into men! Sigh. I am intend on changing those ridiculous narratives as we go but it feels good to acknowledge these among the most negative vibes of practicing an ancient practice without properly following its operational mechanisms.

Long ago, the practice involved the older men guiding a generation of young boys from their mothers huts and smoky kitchens down to the rivers before dawn. It was there experienced hands and tools of trade transitioned them into untrained warriors. For them, it was the beginning of handling spears and shields. Hunting. War. Courtship.

It was also a cleansed pass for them to sit in the shadows of any elders' sitting and have the opportunity to learn a skill or two. Before they were cut, this was considered a taboo. Family oriented souls were seen mingling with middle aged men with small families hoping to catch a glimpse into a married life.

There was a fickle balance between patriarchal domineering and a sacred respect for women then. This meant that women handled FGM -Female Genital Mutilation- matters and the men concentrated on the circumcision of the boys.

Back then the recently initiated folks were the entire society's responsibility. We have always believed a child belongs to the village not only to the woman who bears the cave he emerged from. Everyone chipped in. The medicine man and woman. The elderly. The energetic lot. They contributed wholly in moulding this future member of their community.

Nowadays. Faith based organisations replaced the rivers young boys were taken to for the rite of passage. The society dissolved into religious doctrines and obnoxious expectations. The medicine man and woman disappeared soon after colonialism. And so did the community spirit that helped nurture the incoming generation.

The child was returned to the woman who birthed him or her. And a process that usually began since as early as twelve and stretched into the early twenties was compressed into ten to fourteen days at a makeshift seasonal facility incapable of bridging the gap.

With all that in mind, how it is that we as a people of this certain tribe still expect the exact results like our forefathers is what I never wrapped my head around! I mean... other than the clear inconsistencies in these two practices, the different eras is something to think about. But how am I to change years of empowering tribalistic bullies as we continually confuse a reasoning mind with a carved D?

wambuku w.