3 intriguing African coming of age rituals for young females

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The passage from childhood to adulthood is traditionally marked in many different ways across a wide range of cultural contexts and traditions.

3 intriguing African coming of age rituals for young females
Source: istockphoto.com

3 intriguing African coming of age rituals for young females: In many African societies, female circumcision was once a common procedure that was commonly performed. Since then, numerous countries have passed laws making this activity illegal.

We will now examine the following fascinating initiation practices for young women on the continent:

Elima (Twa)

Twa people, who are also referred to as the Batwa, are dispersed across the equatorial regions of Africa. It is possible to find them in the areas around Congo (Kinshasa), Rwanda, and Burundi.

Elima is the name of a rite of passage that is performed on Twa girls. This takes place when a girl experiences her first menstrual period. After the young woman has received this unique blessing, she is sent to a home where she spends at least one month in seclusion with other females who are going through their periods.

3 intriguing African coming of age rituals for young females
Source: istockphoto.com

During the course of their stay, an older lady instructs the younger girls on their history, as well as how to be good wives and mothers, and on everything else that goes into being a Twa woman. When the girls have completed their education, they are then allowed to dance and become available for marriage. After that, every member of the community takes part in the subsequent Elima celebrations.

Nugbeto (Anlo-Ewe)

The Anlo-Ewe are a subgroup of the Ewe people and can be found in the south of Togo, the south of Benin, southwest Nigeria, and sections of the south-eastern Volta Region of Ghana.

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Nugbeto is the local name for the ancient puberty rites that are performed for young women in this region. The rites consist of learning several parts of womanhood, including as sex, birth control, motherhood, and what it takes to sustain a strong marriage, from other women who are highly respected in the community. After the training, there is a feast called a durbar, during which the rest of the community formally welcomes the newly inducted women into the social structure. When these ‘ladies’ are first shown to the eligible bachelors who will one day be their husbands, they are decked out in very pretty beads to attract their attention.

Following the conclusion of the celebration, the newly initiated ladies are showered with presents such as money, jewelry, clothing, and cooking utensils. Note that it is expected of these young women to maintain their chastity and refrain from becoming pregnant in the time leading up to the initiation rite, as doing so is regarded as an abomination.

3 intriguing African coming of age rituals for young females
Source: istockphoto.com

Iria ritual (Niger Delta states)

The Iria rite is performed by a number of different tribes across the states that make up the Niger Delta. Typically, it is done to young girls between the ages of 14 and 16 in order to get them ready for marriage. They may be asked to stand bare-breasted in front of the crowd so that everyone may examine them and make sure that their virginity has not been compromised.

These girls also go to the chamber where they are fattened up, where they are fed foods such as mashed yam combined with mashed plantain and taught how to dance in the market square while half-naked. In addition to that, they learned a few songs. On the final day of the ceremony, the females journeyed together down to the river while the Osokolo, the elder male of the tribe, beat the women with a stick to fend off the water spirits. These songs are sung during this time.

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They were detained in these chambers for one to six months at a time. The girls were made to put on weight since society believed that “larger” brides were more beautiful. They were also considered to have a higher fertility rate. After spending some time in the fattening room, the participants get their bodies painted in a variety of colors in preparation for the dance.

An interesting tidbit is that this ceremony is still carried out in some regions of Nigeria.


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