Importance of Initiations 

  Importance of Initiations

In African traditional society there were different initiations rituals performed on the young by different societies as explained below:

  • Initiation graduated the initiate from Childhood to adulthood. E.g. the circumcision ritual among the Kikuyu of Kenya.
  • It also joined the initiates with the ancestors through shedding blood on the ground.
  • It enabled the initiates to assume positions of responsibility like leadership in the society.
  • Initiation rituals were moments of celebration and enjoyment with the society members through eating and drinking.
  • It enabled the initiates to acquire wealth through the gifts they received e.g. among the Gishu of Eastern Uganda, the boys would receive cattle, goats, sheep, chicken etc. After circumcision.
  • Some initiation rituals enabled the initiates to enjoy sex while in marriage e.g. the pulling of the Labias among the Baganda,Banyankole,Basoga,Batoro etc.
  • Initiation promoted unity among the African societies because these rituals were attended by many people.
  • It enabled the initiates to acquire sex education e.g. during the pulling of Labias, the Baganda girls were taught a lot about sex.
  • It promoted permanent marriages due to sex education which was provided to the initiates.
  • Through initiation rituals, African culture was preserved from one generation to piercing of the face by the Kramajongos.
  • Through initiation, the initiates received spiritual blessings from the ancestorsfor future life and responsibilities.
  • It provided the initiates with identification marks/scars which made it easy for them to be recognized in the society. E.g. piecing of the face among the ALUR.
  • Some rituals made the initiates to be brave and fearless in the society e.g. circumcision anddetoothing among the Gishu and Karamojong’s respectively.
  • It promoted entertainment in society because some rituals like circumcision involved drumming, singing and dancing.
  • Some rituals helped to control sexual immorality in the clitoridectomy among the sabiny reduced the sex Libido of the girls/women.
  • Some rituals made the initiates beautiful and attractive. E.g.detoothing, face piercing and tattooing among the Karamajongs,Alur and Dinkas.
  • Initiation enabled the initiates to get married because no one could get married before being initiated.
  • Through initiation rituals, new relationships/friend ship were made among people who came together to celebrate.
  • It enabled the people to identify future marriage partners. E.g. during the Kadodidance among the Gishu, the men would get attracted to girls who danced well.
  • The Negative roles of initiation rituals included the following:
  • Some rituals caused a lot of pain to the initiates e.g. clitoridectomy, detoothing etc.
  • Some of them caused a lot of bleeding to the initiates making them lose a lot of blood. E.g. circumcision among the Bagishu.
  • Some initiation rituals caused death especially when they were not carried out properly e.g. clitoridectomy among the Sabiny of Eastern Uganda.
  • They violated God’s natural Law of creation of Man by cutting off some of God’s created body parts.
  • Some rituals deprived women of their right to enjoy sex by cutting off their clitoris which makes sex interesting.
  • They deprived the initiates’ right to privacy because they were circumcised when the whole public was seeing.
  • Some rituals distanced the initiates from their family members because they were taken to secret places after the Kikuyu boys were taken to the forest after circumcision.
  • Some rituals were done by they were done without the will of the initiates hence taking away their freedom and Clitoridectomy.
  1. Analyze the implications of initiation in the African traditional religious experience (15 marks) Approach:

The question wants the important /significance of the different initiations ritual that were performed on the young during the puberty stage. Rituals like circumcision, cliteridectomy,detoothing etc. A candidate should

  • Assess the role of initiation rituals in Traditional African Religious Experience. (25 marks) Approach:

It is a two sided question which wants both the positive and Negative roles of the various initiation rituals in traditional Africa.

Give some examples for the S.H marks


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