X-FILES FROM THE VILLAGE
When a “child” like Wanyanga freaks out during circumcision, he is called a coward. The marks awarding team gave him 15 out of 100. Yes in circumcision, we have the experts who award marks out of 100. There are people like Welikhe, son of Nguuye who was awarded 110 out of 100. He is believed to be the first of his kind in our village who was circumcised while standing on one leg as a fashion. Thereafter, many tried to copy but Wandeeba when he tried could not sustain it beyond litaayyi.
When awarding marks to the circumcision candidates, a lot is considered. Even if one has stood firm but blinks when umushebi has not blown the whistle, they deduct 5 marks; you can stand firm, not blink but once we realize that you’re gnashing your teeth, we remove 3 marks.
It is upon these marks that the relatives and the friends award gifts to the “child” after circumcision. One who gets above 100 like Welikhe would have been awarded a big bull by his parents if his parents were as rich as Watila’s who awarded their son with a beautiful hornless cow known as “mulukumu”.
The beauty of one standing firm during circumcision is the pride that one brings upon village, family and themselves. Isn’t it said, though with a hush that our neighbors from Buwalasi are cowards when it comes to circumcision? That every family must have at least one child who can’t stand the knife. No wonder Wanyanga freaked out; his mother carries their blood. It is what caused the fight during the circumcision.
As they brought Wanyanga towards the circumcision ground, the clan leader had expressed fears about Wanyanga’s inability to stand the knife especially after dodging for 2 consecutive years. His mother’s brother however insisted that the boy is firm and will stand the knife. Someone from the father’s side said a not so nice word relating to the record of Wanyanga’s maternal clan that did not go down well with the uncles and aunts. But being hosts, they had remained silent waiting for their good time to revenge. For it is not good to fight before the circumcision.
When Wanyanga stretched out his hand to reach for Umushebi, his father’s brother Zebidayo was the first to arrest his hand and hold it from the back. It is at this point that the fighting broke out between the maternal relatives and paternal relatives. One group was not happy with Wanyanga being restrained to protect his pride while the other responded to Umushebi’s request.
After the fighting had stopped, the clan leader had to bring a male goat. The goat was slaughtered in a special ceremony called “khuwosa lusha” or sanctifying the circumcision ground to remove the spell (imbikho) to never befall future children. Umushebi was also given a goat so that he can perform his rituals and remove his curse upon the ground and the child. It is said that when umushebi is not given a goat after such incident, the child’s circumcision wound cannot heal.
Later in the evening, the slaughtered goat was given to Bamya since it is a sacrifice of bad omen that cannot be eaten by the clansmen. Bamya take all this for free. Wanyanga’s incident is going to form a topic of discussion for rest of the year or until another one happens. And now that he has shamed his tribe, village and family; he faces a lifetime ban of never standing before a candidate and advising on matters of the tribe, he shall never host any future circumcision ceremony in his home and for the lifetime, he cannot sit on the council of elders of the tribe.
In fact, he cannot marry from nearby as no girl will accept to bring such shame to their family.
After the merry making and the festive, people have returned to their usual life. At such a time, we also pause the circumcision ceremonies and resort to clearing the gardens for the millet. It is at around this time that we clear the gardens, sow the millet then look to the skies expecting the rains to come soon. The digging is often done communally with around 5 families coming together to clear the gardens in shifts.
Even as we are preparing gardens for the planting, it is evident that the hunger has started biting; some families have started having one meal while those families which can afford two meals now have their lunch from indoors to avoid visitors and the passersby. It is only Zebidayo who insists on sitting under his famous mango tree while having lunch. When Mungau was passing by while Zebidayo was finishing his meal, he called onto Mungau; “see, we are eating”. Mungau took it for an invite and came to join Zebidayo under his tree. Little did he know that the food was finished even at the back!
You should have seen the frustration as Zebidayo tried to explain to Mungau that there was no food after the invite.
We all go to church to pray that God may remember us and maybe bring the rains back soon. “Did you see the fog in the morning? This is going to be a year of tsihungu (army worms)”. Wandwasi mused from outside the church building. To us, this church is just another place for the community to gather and know how we are doing, share our fears, our strength and agree to where we shall meet for the evening, to know who has the best “busela” today!
Till then we shall keep you posted