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X-Files From The Village

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In the year of circumcision like this one and in the evening, sometimes when we come back early from Manafa or when we do not go to Manafa to graze cattle, we go through the drills in preparation for imbalu. These drills are known as isonja. It is a fascinating preparatory dance for intending candidates.

Wafana being the only son of Mukolongolo has been brought up badly; he is known to be stubborn and yet with a lot of “lutete” even during the isonja. When ordered to remove his shirt he refused and instead chose to keep out of the proceedings to the annoyance of all of us. Thus we ordered him to go away if he can’t join us. It is at this moment that Wanda who was seated on an antihil but watching us interjected and warned us against pride.


“Let me tell you a story and if you don’t pick a lesson from it. A Mugisu says, nangakambila akwa khumuwanda kwe tsofu”

“I was circumcised in 1970 during the nabitete season and one of my Makokis is Wamusanga, son of Nabiro whose pride cost him and brought shame upon his clan, Bakatsa. Since then, Wamusanga went away and has never returned home to date”


“Wamusanga had a “long hand”. He could steal people’s goats and sell to the Bamia and Basukuya. He was beaten several times but he never changed. Everyone said “Let us give him time, imbalu we change him. He will change after being circumcised and receiving the blessings of the ancestors”. But the money that he got from his thuggery turned Wamusanga into an arrogant and proud person. Can you imagine he could even sleep with women even before circumcision to the envy of all of us?”

“Unfortunately, Wamusanga got swallowed by this pride that as we practiced isonja, Wamusanga refused to join. Most of us who were even younger chose to be circumcised during the “nabitete imbalu and other chose nabyalo” while Wamusanga postponed to “namasomelo and yet he was not in school. In fact at first we thought that he was making a ploy to run away to Kenya like Wananda did but kept his word”


“But still, Wamusanga gave us, Basinyisi a hard time. The d-day came and just like any “umusinde” as a circumcision candidate is referred to, Wamusanga had to eat last from his mother’s side before he could be taken to face the knife. His uncles can give him the last blessings, cautioned him not to shame his mother’s clan. At such a moment, every clan talks big about themselves as if they have never had cowards.

We were all eager to witness Wamusanga’s transformation into a man and had formed a ring around the “lusha” and everyone had picked the best spot while the younger boys climbed the surrounding trees to also have a view since they could not be allowed in the league of men.


It was not long until “umusinde” arrived holding tight onto his kyimishinga which he had placed close to the chest. He could alternately raise one hand and rally;



“samwene oyee”


His voice could then get lost in the drum beats as the men’s stumpings and clanking of pangas increased.”


“Reaching the doorway, Wamusanga stopped and we thought that he is summoning “umushebi” to take litayi, but no, “I want to be circumcised atop a table, bring a table, I want everyone to see properly” he demanded.

This was unprecedented, never heard of and the elders flatly rejected it. Wamusanga also refused to burge until he was pushed forward by his uncle. At that moment, Wamusanga handed kyimishinga to his father, put hands akimbo behind his head. Umushebi stepped forward to meet Wamusanga and in a flash, litaayi was finished but Wamusanga released his hands from the head as umushebi reached for his soil.

Wamusanga had already lost marks but the worst was yet to come. He had to be restrained and before they could cover his mouth, he had already said it “mayise”. The worst of any cricumcision is when umusinde calls to his mother; and that is why they cover their mouths when one shows signs of not withstanding.”


“We knew outright that a goat had to fall”

Having all listened intently to Wanda’s narrative, our attitude changed instantly. Even Wafana removed his shirt and picked sticks to join us in isonja with new resolute and determination.


“But do you know what happened to Wamusanga thereafter?” Wanda asked as he walked away

“Please, tell us” we pleaded

Till then, we shall keep you posted!


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One Comment to X-Files From The Village

  1. Harris Varnedoe says:

    I can’t fault my mora knives. Even my old notched clipper takes any and all mistreatment I’ve dished out. After usino several more expensive bushcraft and survival knives, I always return to the trusty Mora.