Transition into manhood

          How do you show that you have come of age? Today, we have sweet 16 or come out balls to signify the coming of age of a girl. At the age of 18, America accepts you as an adult, but back in the days—the good old days—there were paths followed in introducing a boy into manhood. Some communities used circumcision to signify the coming of age of a boy. Circumcision is a process whereby the foreskin from the male penis is removed. In case you are wondering, it is a painful experience for these men.

         In those days, male babies were not circumcised on the 8th day as is the norm today; rather, they were circumcised starting from the age of 10 years and above. Despite your maturity or height, you were considered a child until after your circumcision. Circumcision was done in age grades; in other words, you were considered age mates with the same set of people that you were circumcised with. For instance, a 10 yr old boy and a 15 yr old boy circumcised on the same day are considered age mates. Also, if a 10 yr old boy gets circumcised before a 15 yr old boy, the 10 yr old is considered to be older than the 15 yr old, especially when it comes to clan meetings. In such meetings, when it gets time to make an opinion or to take a kola nut, the 10 yr old boy is expected to do so before the 15 yr old.

             There’s no circumcision without a ceremony, hence a circumcision ceremony is considered a big ceremony; parents of the candidates throw parties and kill goat, cows etc according to their pocket size. Some parents marry a wife for their son during this ceremony. The wife would be expected to visit the man and help soothe the pains of circumcision; they may not live together as husband and wife but from this point on, the girl is groomed to be married to her future husband. Contrary to what you may be thinking at this moment, this particular tradition has not been entirely fazed out in some communities today.

             Another form of tradition used to attest to the maturity of a man is inwa akwa.  It is more prominent in communities found in the eastern part of Nigeria. In such communities, inwa akwa follows similar procedures as the circumcision, except that the foreskin of the candidate’s penis are not removed. In some communities inwa akwa is done every 3 years; all male children born within the time frame are permitted to participate in the ceremony and considered age mates. For instance, all male children born between 1970-1972 or 1971 to 1973 are candidates for the inwa akwa of a particular year and considered to be age mates. The interesting thing about this pattern is that two siblings born a year or two apart would not have their inwa akwa together, rather the younger sibling would join the next batch of candidates.

          The inwa akwa is a proud occasion for these candidates,  On the particular day when the inwa akwa ceremony will be performed, the candidates will dress up in their “George” wrapper and congregate together at a previously accepted venue. Their wrapper is tied in a specific way associated with the occasion. The elders of the community will pray for them and afterwards, they will match to the village market. It is in the market that the “who is who” of the village would congregate; the Eze or Igwe, the Igwe’s cabinet, the elders etc. These men will pray for the candidates and perform various incantations. Afterwards, the candidates are taken to a place where only qualified people are allowed entrance. This is where the rest of the initiation is conducted; whatever goes on in this place is known only by the people who were present—the candidates are sworn to secrecy and expected not to say anything when they come out. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas; what happens in the marketplace stays in the marketplace.

            After the marketplace initiation, the candidates who are now men will go on to dance and make merry with their guests. In this age and time where people consider such traditions as idol worship, some candidates can be excused from getting involved in the market incantations and they would go straight to having their party. Most men stay back in the village refusing to leave for the city/town until their inwa akwa. At the same time, most men who travelled out of the village before their inwa akwa come back for the occasion. If you get married before inwa akwa, there’s no qualms, but you are not considered a full man in the activities done in the village.

          If you are a candidate, the inwa akwa day is your day.  You will dance like you have never done before and people will spray money at you. The inwa akwa day is seen by the candidates in the same eye that a bride sees her wedding day. On this day, no one else matters but you. Its your party, your day, your initiation. From that day, you are considered a man in the village. On inwa akwa day, you transit into manhood.

Why I like Naija: I like naija because it is only in naija that less than 10 persons can come together and answer “Autonomous” community and start reaping the fruits. I like naija because it is only in naija where someone can throw a party with the purpose of receiving money that people will spray on him/her as they wiggle their waist to the rhythm of the song.

Quote of the day: A man’s own good breeding is the best security against other people’s ill manners—Lord chesterfield


                           My words, my views, my style! Naijagirl©2009


Published in: on January 15, 2009 at 12:33 am  Leave a Comment  

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