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February 23, 2019

Elders declare Luhya boys born this month be named Masinde

A boy is escorted from a river for circumcision in Trans Nzoia /NICHOLAS WAMALWA
A boy is escorted from a river for circumcision in Trans Nzoia /NICHOLAS WAMALWA

Most Luhya children who were born this August will be named Masinde because this is Circumcision period. The name is derived from Omusinde which means a candidate for circumcision.

The name however only applies to boy child but girls can be named the names of the parents’ choice.

The circumcision of Luhya Boys of between 10 and 16 in Trans Nzoia, Bungoma and parts of Kakamega from the Bukusu,Tachoni, Kabras and Banyala commenced on August 1,and is associated with different cultural traditions.

The “Omusinde” is allowed to ring the bells for a number of days before circumcision day. During this time, the boy in accompany of relatives and friends goes to invite other relatives and neighbours to come and celebrate together during the circumcision ceremony.

According to the Bukusu cultural chairman Peter Masinde, when the boy starts invitation, the family starts to prepare Busaa, the traditional liquor which is normally taken during the ceremony.

“Busaa preparation involves very special people who ensure the liquor will be ready on the ceremony day” says Masinde.

Two bulls are also required to be slaughtered. One from the family whiles another one by the uncle of the initiate.

A day before the boy is circumcised; he will be escorted to his uncle, where the said bull is slaughtered. Part of the meat is known as “Likhoni” inserted in the neck of the boy while the remaining one is roasted and eaten by people.

The uncle of the boy however only slaughters this bull if the boy’s family had paid dowry for the mother, failure to which certain special grass is inserted on his neck as an alternative to the meat. This is considered shameful.

After the uncle’s ceremony, the boy is moved to their home in the evening on the ceremony day where another bull is slaughtered by his family. This time some, the boy wears some part of the intestine after removing the Likhoni from his neck.

Masinde says the visitors participate in the singing of various circumcision songs up to midnight. The songs are meant to develop courage for the boy to face the knife the following morning.

“The boy is given like three hours to sleep after which he is escorted to the river by a crowd. The special river called Sitabicha is meant to provide certain clay soil which is used by the boy’s uncle to paint him. There is also a certain grass at the same river which is put on his head the boy is smeared with clay” says Masinde.

But at this stage, if any other boy comes from unknown destination and run into the river, he will also join the one who is prepared and it will be a must for him to face the knife too. He is called “Namukhulisila”.

The completion of the clay painting paves the way to go back home to face the knife. Before stepping out of the river, the boy throws the bells and only one song is sung upto home. The song is known as “Sioya oyo”.

The crowd would use a different route from the one used while going to the river. This is to avoid witches because it is believed some people with a bad eye can witch the boy to fear facing the knife.

The circumciser and his helper are finally involved in the process of cutting the boy at the designated alter in the morning hours. But in case of twins, the boys are cut between 5Am and 6:30Am but others can be circumcised as late as 9AM.

For the case of Boy-Girl twins, a girl is also smeared with clay and special banana material tight around the waist. The material will be cut as a sign of circumcision as the twin counterpart is circumcised.

In some circumstances, a newly circumcised boy can refuse to sit down until he is given a special gift by his father. In the past they could be given bicycles, radios or cows. After the cut the boy graduates from Omusinde to “Omufulu”.The boy would later undergo through essential advise called "Khubita" where he moves from childhood to adulthood.

More than 8,000 boys from Luhya community are undergoing the cut although half of this may be circumcised at the hospital.




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