The circumcision ritual: how men become in Kenya

All schools in western Kenya are closed for exactly one month. This is the time when teenage boys enter the adult world. Before being accepted into the male world, they must undergo a ritual of initiation - the traditional painful rite of circumcision. During the ritual, the boys cannot show that they are in pain, only in this way they will become real men of the Bukusu tribe. Watch us become men in Kenya.

15 PHOTOS

The circumcision ritual: how men become in Kenya

1. Teenage boys from the Bukusu tribe in Kenya must undergo the traditional initiation ritual, only then they can be officially recognized as full members of the male community. The customs of this tribe were described and photographed by Reuters reporter Noor KHAMIS. (Photo: NOOR KHAMIS / REUTERS).

The circumcision ritual: how men become in Kenya

2. The initiation must be completed by all Bukusu boys before the age of 16, but most often it happens several years earlier. The tradition of circumcision is so important to the tribe that the entire local community lives on this event, and all local schools are closed. (Photo: NOOR KHAMIS / REUTERS).

The circumcision ritual: how men become in Kenya

3. The initiation ritual itself does not last long, but boys need time to recover from it. It takes at least four weeks to heal the wound after circumcision. (Photo: NOOR KHAMIS / REUTERS).

The circumcision ritual: how men become in Kenya

4. The photographer, who thought he would be an unwelcome guest during a traditional circumcision ceremony, was very welcome. The teen's family considered it an honor. They are proud that it was their boy who became the hero of the report and everyone will know how bravely he went through the painful ritual of initiation. (Photo: NOOR KHAMIS / REUTERS).

The circumcision ritual: how men become in Kenya

5. All the relatives of the teenager take part in the initiation ceremony. The day before circumcision, the uncle of the teenager kills the cow and the boy walks dressed, literally, in pieces of meat, which symbolizes his readiness for initiation. (Photo: NOOR KHAMIS / REUTERS).

The circumcision ritual: how men become in Kenya

6. An uncle is one of the most important figures in a teenager's life. According to local tradition, it is the uncle who prepares the boy to enter the world of men. The boy spends the last day before circumcision at his uncle's house. First, he eats a traditional dinner, and then he has to withstand two punches in the face - this is the first test of courage, as well as preparation for the pain that the teenager will experience the next day. (Photo: NOOR KHAMIS / REUTERS).

The circumcision ritual: how men become in Kenya

7. Before circumcision, adolescents bathe in a cold river. This is necessary to cleanse the body and also to be less sensitive to pain. (Photo: NOOR KHAMIS / REUTERS).

The circumcision ritual: how men become in Kenya

8. Circumcision does not last long, usually less than a minute. The boy cannot show with one muscle that he is feeling pain. Only in this way will he demonstrate his courage, and all the relatives gathered around will joyfully greet him for this. (Photo: NOOR KHAMIS / REUTERS).

The circumcision ritual: how men become in Kenya

9. After circumcision, all relatives gather in the teenager's parents' house. It is no longer a teenager, but a man, after the initiation ceremony receives gifts that are evidence of his courage. (Photo: NOOR KHAMIS / REUTERS).

The circumcision ritual: how men become in Kenya

10. When the wound stops bleeding heavily, the teenager returns to his father's house. According to the ritual, he must return home ... walking backwards. (Photo: NOOR KHAMIS / REUTERS).

The circumcision ritual: how men become in Kenya

11. For the Bukusu tribe, circumcision is a very important part of the tradition. They also believe that it is good for health, and moreover, they believe that circumcised men are less susceptible to HIV infection. (Photo: NOOR KHAMIS / REUTERS).

The circumcision ritual: how men become in Kenya

12. The Kenyan authorities consistently cite various social campaigns highlighting the high risk of circumcision in primitive conditions using traditional tools. (Photo: NOOR KHAMIS / REUTERS).

The circumcision ritual: how men become in Kenya

13. Fatal complications from circumcision occur almost every year. Several years ago, 7 boys died after initiation. Most of the deaths occur during the traditional period of boys' isolation from the community, which is also part of the initiation ritual. (Photo: NOOR KHAMIS / REUTERS).

The circumcision ritual: how men become in Kenya

14. Adolescents could have been saved if they had sought medical help on time. Unfortunately, according to tribal traditions, this is considered a weakness. Therefore, adolescents suffer “courageously”, enduring terrible pain during the complications of circumcision. (Photo: NOOR KHAMIS / REUTERS).

The circumcision ritual: how men become in Kenya

15. Despite the risk, young Kenyans consciously take it, because it is the only condition that must be met in order to become a full-fledged man. And what boy doesn't want to become a real man, to become an adult? (Photo: NOOR KHAMIS / REUTERS).

Keywords: Kenya | People | Society | Culture | Tradition | Nations | Ritual | Ritual of initiation | Traditional painful rite of circumcision | Male | World | Lifestyle

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