Vicious rite of passage: Beaten into manhood

A lot goes around during festive holidays 40% of which, results in Gender Based Violence. Circumcision is a ritual accepted Biblically and also by most cultures. The ceremonies that go around during circumcision period in Africa are quite fascinating because they are conducted to help boys become men. For instance, boys would be secluded for a period of time before being circumcised where they would be initiated into manhood. To point out, they were taught roles designated for men and were educated on matters of sex. Before they were circumcised, they would wake up very early in the morning and would bathe in cold rivers in order to numb their bodies .Some cultures marked the event by removal of teeth or markings or tattoos on the body. Today, not much has changed as there are people who still celebrate this ceremony based on their cultural grounds albeit in a modern way at times. Some of the practices have been known to undermine the health of the boy child during circumcision. There are very many cases in hospital where some of the practices done during circumcision have led to the demise of the child.

14 year old Kimani is among the lucky boys who survived the brutality of older boys who beat him to mark his transition into manhood.

In Nakuru, a small town by the name Ngorika is where Kimani lived with his dad. He went through circumcision a week before Christmas. His father, being a single dad, called one of his cousins from the village to come assist in looking after Kimani.

Due to the shrieking pain he felt, Kimani could only stay in bed. His cousin on the other hand, having gone through circumcision, had learned the ropes on what goes on to mark the event. So while Kimani’s father was away, he would call the other village boys and they would come with wires and sticks and even stones to beat Kimani because according to them, they were trying to teach Kimani about Endurance.

His cousin warned Kimani that he should neither cry nor complain to anybody as real men ‘cry from the inside.’ For 8 days, his cousin ensured that the boys from the village would constantly beat him and also eat his food. Kimani could not tell his father what was going on as this was a mark to manhood and he was neither supposed to cry nor tell anyone.

The night of the 26th of December, Kimani’s father asked Kimani to eat with him from the table room and not his bedroom. It was then that his father realized that Kimani could not walk or sit down properly. His father asked him what was wrong but he couldn’t say what he had been going through. His father then saw the marks on his bodies and asked him to show him the rest of his body. His father was surprised as Kimani had so many wounds on his back such that he couldn’t even sit or lie properly. Eventually, Kimani confessed what his cousin and the other village boys had done to him.

Shortly after, he was admitted to the hospital due to the injuries and bruises his body. Notably, Kimani had become anemic and suffered from hunger and thus, he had to get a blood transfusion. He was lucky because he was brought in to hospital on time.

There is a lot that goes on to mark the transition from Boyhood to Manhood. Regardless of the initiation practice of a community, it shouldn’t deteriorate the health of the children nor should it harm them or traumatize them.

A lot of boys are initiated through beatings that are so dangerous that they harm their health and in other circumstances, lead to death.

Cases like these need to be reported to police and actions taken against those who take part in beating young children. Transition into manhood needs to be celebrated but whatever we decide to do, let it be within the parameters of protecting children against harmful practices.

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