Rite of Passage


One of the most important Masai festivals marks the coming of age of Masai boys who are 12-25 years old. Boys must give away everything that they own. On the day of the ceremony, the boys shave their heads and paint their faces with white chalk, dress themselves in black cloaks and ostrich-feather headdresses. Then, the village elders perform the initiation rights of each boy inside a small tent, where they are circumcised. The circumcision is done without anesthetic. The boy must endure this pain in silence, and expressions of pain will bring dishonor. The healing process takes about 3-4 months, and the boys must remain in black clothes for 4-8 months. Once they have emerged from healing, the boys are now considered to be warriors.

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