"And if you SPEND YOURSELVES on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness and your night will become like the noonday."

"The Lord will continually guide you. He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."- Isaiah 58:10-11

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Maasai Initiation Ceremony

This last week, we had the rare privilege of being invited to participate in the much anticipated ‘initiation ceremony’ that marks the transition from boyhood to manhood in the Maasai culture! While the traditional ceremony is different from the one we experienced, the Christian men in this community felt the need to re-define tradition and hold a new ceremony that is honoring to God. About a year ago, the boys at the Children’s Home asked if they could participate in this new kind of ceremony because they wanted to be ‘agents of change’ in their community and do something ‘more honorable.’ Needless to say, we are extremely proud of each one of them for making a stand against tradition and for setting an example of living like Christ would! They joined 24 other boys making a total of 30 boys to make this stand!

Preparations began long ago as the proper location, day, and schedule were determined. Speakers were invited and choirs and dancers were booked. Cooks were hired to come in from the Maasai Mara game parks.

The week before, people went shopping and choirs started practicing. The boys all had a new set of clothes and shoes, gifts of ‘shinys’ were purchased by community members, good clothes were washed and ironed, hair was braided, nails were painted, and jewelry was picked.

The day before, the food and grounds preparations began. Chipatti and rice were cooked, and potatoes were peeled. Tents were raised and sound systems were tested.

Then the long anticipated morning came! Two large bulls were rounded up and slaughtered for the meal. Around 11 am the men started arriving. They were served a treat of soda along with their meal. At 12 noon, the women and children started coming. They too were given the same treats with their meal! The men talked together in excited groups. The women arranged their ‘shinys’ and made plans as to who would give them out. The children practiced their dances under the shade of the trees and everyone was happy!

Around 2pm, the ceremony began! Over a thousand people crowded into the large field facing a long row of tents. First the elder men slowly marched in dancing with a choir leading them in. They were followed by the mothers of the boys, who were also dancing and singing. I was among these women, as I represented the sponsored parents of the children! Next came the fathers and pastors led by another choir. Rick came with them. Finally, the boys came in led by the Children’s Home choir among whom were our children! Once everyone was seated introductions were made and the ceremony began! There were various speakers, choirs, and dancers that celebrated for the next 3 hours! It started raining and we still celebrated! There was a special dance in the rain!

Finally, the boys all lined up and we passed out the gifts of ‘shinys’ and candy. They were paraded around and danced around and finally were permitted to go take pictures with their family members!

Then the crowds left and the boys and men went into the house. At around midnight, they individually went into a private sterile room and underwent a circumcision process by a professional surgeon. The boys will remain secluded as a group for the next week while they recover. Then our 6 boys will move to a tent in the bush to spend 3 weeks together. There they will be visited each day by elders, pastors, and leaders in the community, who will speak to them about leadership, being a man, and being a strong Christian. Rick will have the opportunity to visit them during this time!

We are so proud of each of the boys and their determination to make a stand! The will be another weeklong celebration at each home that participated in the event when the come out of seclusion! We look forward to the one hosted at Joseph and Annah’s house!

1 comment:

Jenifer said...

Wow! How absolutely AMAZING..what a wonderful gift for you to experience all these traditions, and for the people to have you there to help them!