POKOMO TRADITIONAL PASSAGE TO ADULTHOOD

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The Pokomos were organized around the age-set system (RIKA) and thus male and female initiation rites play a central social role. These involve prolonged and intensive puberty rituals that culminate with male circumcision (KUHINYA) and girls’ trainings and teachings. Although boys and girls are taken to separate locations for the rituals, those boys circumcised and girls trained at the same time are considered age-mates, and those circumcised during the same season are regarded as age-sets, they were separated from their biological families as children to return, or reborn adults after the initiation

BOYS

All boys in each Village were being initiated together.
And all men initiated together   were regarded as members of an age set (HARIA/MABANA), and each set was given a name.

At the age of 15 years male children were  taken to secluded place called RIGI where
They were  circumcised and given time to heal.
During initiation, dancing and singing is performed by men while the elders enjoy the traditional brew (MUNYUCHI, MUKOMA and MKINDU)
The boys were taken care of by older men.

During the healing period the mothers of the boys were allowed to bring them food, morning, afternoon and evening. They were however not allowed to get near to the RIGI.

See Also:  Traditional Pokomo Dances and Their Purposes

The Men taking care of the boys would go meet the mothers and take the food from them and brought it to the boys.

At the end of this period when the boys had healed there was a big coming out ceremony. Men and Women welcomed them and from this moment they were officially initiated to Manhood.

It should be noted here that at times there are casualties, although this is on very rare occasions. When such happens and one of the initiates dies, he is buried but the parents are not informed until during the coming out ceremony when the parents are handed with his official stick and clothes(MUSIMBANYO).

After heeling the young men are taught the responsibility of being the head of the family and became responsible people in the society, also they were taught how to hunt wild animals using traps and sneers (MIHEGO), spears (MAFUMO and NTSOMA/NCHOMA) and arrows. Different fishing techniques, using fishing traps (MONO), NTSOMA/NCHOMA, etc.

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GILRLS

Traditionally   Girls were not being circumcised at maturity (puberty), they were accommodated in special houses specially built for them, these houses were called GANE (where they stayed for a number of years, leaving as they got married.)

Elderly experience women take care of the girls in the GANE,  The reason of having people taking care of them was to give them special training about behavior  and also to prevent them from misbehaving and perform some illegal acts before marriage that would result into unwanted pregnancy

Now every Saturday very early in the morning the Older Women (MAJARISA/ YAYE)  would come and supervise the girls to see if they were still pure (Virgins)
This was because as a tradition  a girl had to stay a virgin till marriage and it would be very embarrassing especially to the Parents if their daughter lost her virginity.
When this happens the culprits  were mocked and punished. They were made to appear before  Elders and were forced to marry or face expulsion (they were made to go out of the village) KUYAVIGWA MUDZI for lower pokomos and KULAVIGWA MUJI for upper pokomos
Because of this both boys and the girls restrained themselves as nobody wanted to get into any trouble.

When the young Girls got their first mensuration the Elderly women taught them how to take care of themselves and during this period they were made to stay indoors for seven days on the last day they were normally taken to the river to birth and to finalize the Ceremony the parents gave them some presents.
Bangles,  necklaces  ,much later it was a black piece of cloth known as Nkanike and before changing to Leso which is usually wrapped  around her waist to indicate that she is now a Woman.

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