By Denis Wabuyi
The fear and grief that gripped the village is still visible but slowly dying. Nothing can distract us this imbalu season, even death can’t.
Such pronunciations and declarations of courage is what dominates our village life. Ululations from all parts of the village. For us the world rotates around imbalu.
Being a Wednesday we have 7 candidates to circumcise. Food is in plenty, who cares about tomorrow? The lead Umushebi is Namawa. It is amazing what he does, even the white man can’t beat him at what he does. Namawa is inspired by the gods in what he does. We are only worried that these days he performs the whole thing very fast. The Umusinde should feel the pain. It is what makes him a man. But it seems his fast hands match his legs. Namawa is a quick sprinter. No one can overtake him. No wonder he can cut 7 candidates in less than one hour.
Most candidates prefer Saturday for their circumcision. Being that the whole ceremony takes three days Wednesday is for “khukoya”. The Umusinde goes to the river with “khyayungu” to fetch water. This water can also be got at any stream closer home but most boys prefer water from Manafa and so did Wakauna.
However When we reached Nakunuku, Wakauna slipped and “khayungu” broke into pieces. This was bad luck. In essence, we would cancel the whole thing and consult the gods, Wakauna insisted. He therefore went back home and picked another “Khayungu”. For us we knew that he is under the influence of “ityanyi” the herb that induces one to yearn for circumcision. It is normally given to cowards who have aged.
We went to Wambalu’s home as it is the custom that the candidates visit homesteads and are given gifts like chicken, goats, money and some even give cows. When we reached his home the kid happily told us, “father said he is not at home”. “Am not lying, you can even go in his bedroom and ask”. Of course there is nothing to be done but when it gets to his children, all of us will shun them.
In the morning you can hear processions from everywhere, it is a celebratory mood which has gripped us.
“Wele wele wowo”
“kuma, oba urye”
Losely translated as God is by your side whether you are brave or coward. These songs are sang in the morning as the candidates move around the village collecting gifts. This is the third day, it is for the mother’s side to give their blessings. This is normally done by the favorite uncle who gives the last blessings symbolized in “bbusee” goat shit which is smeared to the face, torso, arms and legs of the Umusinde. After that he spits buseela into the Umusinde’s face. After all is done, the Umusinde has to dance around his ancestor’s Graves.
From here we headed direct to the circumcision ground where a ring was already formed. Namawa reveals himself at last and he did. Soon the whistle was blown, Wakauna had braved transition into manhood. The aunt makes “shikalakala” and the crowd goes wild, the drummers wrap it up with the best beats and we all dance to the new man. Women wriggle their waists seductively, old and young they shake their behinds like they don’t need them anymore.
The men stump the ground that you may think it will break, raise the dust and the excitement only gets better. We all hate the last beat of the drum. Wakauna is finally a man. We then realized that no meat was put on lukangu.
And on the 7th day, the village rests. After all even God rested on the 7th day. Even if we don’t know the exact 7th day, some say it is Saturday. Who cares, we rest on Sunday.
Till then, we shall keep you posted.
Mr. Denis Wabuyi is an accountant, researcher and writer. He writes the X-Files from the village every Thursday. You can find some of his other work using Google.