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Imbalu Circumcision


The Imbalu circumcision ceremony held during even years is personal rite of passage to man hood among the Bagisu.

The year for initiation is determined by the person himself and not necessarily a council of elders or a convention.

The age range between 16 and 26 is acceptable. Those who elect to be circumcised in any given year announce their intention in May or June.

They spend the next few months preparing for it. The key observable aspect of the arrangements involve the initiate. He is decorated in plantain fronds or animal skins and ash plastered face.

Then escorted by a crew of encouraging friends matching and dancing via the streets. After, they connect to his close relatives and seek their approval.

The function is conducted in august thus can be incorporated in your Ugandan safaris and usually occurs before 10:00am, it’s one of the activities that you couldn’t miss on your tour to eastern because in a simple explanation we call it a buffet activity because of the amazing music called sound (kadodi) from the local instruments.

The Bagisu circumcision is declared as a public function even allowing tourists to attend. The operation lasts one hour in which the circumciser makes three bold cuts to remove the foreskin. This is done before the whistle is blown to mark the exercise completed. The initiate raises his hands victoriously, dancing, proudly exhibiting his blooded fellow to an ululating crowd. Crying during the process would mean cowardice thus forbidden.

He is then led to the quiet place seated and wrapped in a cloth before bleeding ceases. He is continued to the father’s home and hand fed for three consecutive days. It is done before he is ritually washed and permitted to eat with own hands marking the end of the ritual. This is one of those last amazing experiences that can still authentically be traced on the African continent.