Monday, October 4, 2010
Part 3 of 3 Circumcision Time
Part of my job is learning about this new culture and its exciting traditions. . Lets talk about circumcision! Right now, during the rainy season, it is the time when the young boys get the small fore skin of their penisis removed. Ouch! I share with you what I have learned based on information that was provided by fellow volunteers and then confirmed by my host brothers as well a BBC article which I have included.
This practice is a Rite of Passage where a boy becomes a man. It is a tradition that has changed throughout the last couple of decades, but is still an important part to many of the Senegelese communities. The cutting takes place after Korite. Traditionally the soon to be teenagers would leave their villages and unite together to be circumcized. (An act that is much more painful the older you are) As the boys healed, they would go through a series of trainings that initiated them into manhood. I do not have information of what exactly took place but BBC does ellaborate a little more. Previously, During this time the boys were forbidden to see any women including their mother. IThis was explained to me as having two reasons. The first is to break the connection with their mothers and the second is that any other women may cause they boys to be aroused which would hinder their healing process.
Today it has changed a little because boys do not wait until they are teenagers instead they can be anywhere from 5-11 years old. To represent this rite of passage, a person dresses up as a Konkoran. (photo above taken by Cara Steger) His costume is made of bark or yarn and when he enters the village all the women must hide and throw money under the door. (money is later used to buy lunch for the boys). The boys who have been circumcized can interact with him and do not fear him while the ones who have not hide away with the women. The boy's spirits are thought to be vulnerable so part of the Konkoran's job is to patrol the village and protect them from any evil spirits that may be trying to hurt them. There was no KonKoran in my actual village, nor did the boys leave. Instead they stayed in their houses. I did however see a KonKoran in Kun Kane along with many boys who had travelled in from their villages to stay for their healing period. They wear white robes (as shown above) and eat lunch together out of a special bowl decorated by their mothers. For their mothers, this also symbolizes a significant moment in their lives. From this moment on they are no longer allowed to discipline their sons. This means when the boys get in trouble it will be a male who takes care of them; ie: no longer can a mother hit her son. To represent this they get their hair braided and put these beeded type of ornaments in their hair. They leave it in for the first week or so. I was unable to get a picture of the mothers. But here is one of my sister Mouna and her son Boubalye. After the healing period ends there is a big celebration where you give money to "new" men of the village and celebrate their manhood.