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Samburu circumcision

Samburu Circumcision Ceremony in Kenya

George Philipas

Circumcision is an important ritual for all young men in Samburu culture. It is essentially a symbolic ritual that marks the end of childlike things and the beginning of a passage that ultimately ends in warrior status.

The Samburu circumcision ritual is a rare ceremony that occurs once every 10 to 15 years and the boys, aged as young as 8 and sometimes as old as 20 are circumcised en masse in a 2 month-long ceremony as the circumcisor travels from village to village to complete his task. The event is an emotionally charged event and boys wait for what must be an eternity during the last week for the circumcision to take place. It is performed by a specially-anointed man whose skills are passed down from generation to generation.

For each boy, the ceremony is performed without anaesthetic, only with cold water to lull what must be overwhelming pain. Yet each boy faces the ritual with the utmost dignity - for to even flinch when the knife is brought to bear is to bring great shame on himself and his family.

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