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COMING OF AGE


I never wanted to be circumcised. I am not saying this tongue in cheek. Where I come from, circumcision is the crowning jewel of manhood. You’re not yet a man till you stand in freezing river water at 2 a.m. And when day breaks, circa 5 a.m. A grizzled old man, white hair scattered all over his head, like a field of ash, chops away at your foreskin.
Scientists call the foreskin circumcisionis suae in Latin, such information won’t change your life, but still, medicine people can tell us more. “Hello, Janet?” Would you mind leading the brigade?
Folks rarely talk about the initiation process. Girls act as if it’s nothing. Why don’t ladies wish to know what really goes down? Should I meet a lady who talks about male circumcision, not FGM, I will propose instantly.

Over the years, with my agemates, we’ve talked about it. How shit went down. Having survived a Kalenjin high school, hemmed in the backwaters of Nandi, I have a sack load of stories about the process.

Some claim that they went into the bush, wearing nothing but animal skins.  They stayed in makeshift huts for over two months. They were stuffed with food, so much that at the end of the ceremony, they resembled overgrown wazzocks, not initiates. Guys narrated tales of valour. Hunting in thickets and bushes. One thumped his chest on he killed a snake. Adeptly retrieving an arrow from his quiver and shooting at it. Bam! It was bullseye in an instant. The arrow connecting with the head of the cold reptile. The insidious creature writhed in pure agony for a few moments before laying still. Dead. But all those are imaginations. He was probably drunk with the same alcohol that tells high schoolers to text “xaxa” to their elders.

Honestly, I think he was bullshitting me because teenagers can have lofty imaginations. But hold your breath.  During the holidays, he WhatsApped me a low-quality photo. It was him, deep in the unsullied bushes of the rift valley, on his left arm was a bow, on his right, he hoisted a seemingly dead black mamba. Phew! Fellas have guts, I fear snakes and I can’t stand the sight of them, even dead snakes. To massage his ego, I replied. I told him I was truly and utterly shocked. He was the true warrior, the prince of arrows and bows. And should a war arise, he should spare me and my kin. He replied back with those laughter emojis and said it wasn’t such a big deal. That he was a man of honour, basic teenage nonsense.

I rarely talk of my circumcision. When pressed to do so, I come up with stories in my head. Pure fictitious literature. Lore. I tell people that I joined a troupe of young men fifteen of us and we trekked into the darkness of Kisii forests. It was a dark night, no stars, no moon, just howls of dogs and distant shrieks of hyenas. And of course, an occasional night runner blitzing past. Shepherding us were wizened elders and young men a few years older, whose role was to ensure we did not get cheeky. We walked in a single file, singing songs and praising our fallen ancestors. Around midnight, we dipped into the gushing river Gucha, at a point where the water is still. Our ancestors had stood at the same spot and now, we, 21st-century initiates were continuing with the tradition. We stayed in the icy waters until 4 a.m. in the morning.

At first light, a fading man, with a pear-shaped head and smoky red eyes, chopped off our dangling foreskins. There was no anaesthesia, and you were not supposed to cry. Just a whimper and the young men would descend on you with canes. Thus, we stood shivering in the forest. Numbing pain cutting through our organs, but we remained stoic, guarding the legacy of our forefathers. A disbelieving listener would ask.

“Come on Osoch, there was a guy who cried, there must have been.”
And I would reply to that.
“I swear, nobody cried. We Kisiis are true warriors, we don’t cry during circumcision.”

Dear reader, I come clean in these pages. Today, with you and Jesus as my witnesses I confess that I lied. This wasn’t the story of my circumcision. And I have not, for once been at River Gucha at 4 a.m. in the morning, what would I be doing there for Christ’s sake? (see what I have done)

Here is the story of my circumcision. No filters this time. 

First, there are reasons why I did not want to face the knife, as stated in the beginning. My two older brothers, lecherous bastards, had lied to me about the process. They filled my head with graphic imagery of how the process was supposed to be. They told me that my foreskin would be chopped off with an axe. That my member would be laid on a tree stump, the foreskin pulled forward, then the axe would be brought down from above with brute force. The way a butcher does his shtick. Of course, I was terrified, what do you expect of an eight-year-old?

These blood traitors went further. That after my foreskin has been dismembered, Game of Thrones style, to stop the bloodshed and ensure fast healing, a red-hot knife would be laid lightly over the wound. Phew! After imbibing such propaganda, dear gentlemen, tell me if you could have the balls to face the knife. The damn knife could as well screw itself! Thus, I swore to my parents that whatever happens, I would not go through such an ordeal. Over my dead body! I did not use such a phrase though. I was a well-adjusted child.
My parents tried to save the situation, but I wasn’t one to be convinced. Eventually, I caved in, after my parents lied. I come from a long line of sell outs, friggin Catholics.  They said that after initiation I would be a man. And there would be no more caning, no more slaps, how I detested such. It won me over. And yet I was still caned up to class eight.

On a sunny Tuesday morning, November 2009, I faced the knife.
I forget lots of stuff. Chicks say that I said this and that, I never recall. But the events of that day are still with me. I don’t think there’s a man who forgets his circumcision. How can you? In an African man’s life, there are four monumental events. Birth. Circumcision. First experience with a woman. And ultimately death.

It was a private clinic down in Kisii. I lay naked on a bed. My legs apart like a woman in labour, whose water has just broken. The doctor a middle-aged man with a fatherly tone, was bearing down on me. His right hand, a syringe. I fear syringes, just like snakes. He engaged in bullshit small talk. Shocked at the size of my organ, saying it was too huge for a boy my age. I laughed lightly, He! He! He! The way men laugh after getting a compliment. And told him not to mind, that I served a living God. Kufumba na kufumbua, the syringe was around my manhood, dispensing anaesthesia. The process was largely painless. We left in the evening, a bandage around my massive truncheon. Not bragging but God blessed me ‘abundantly’ from a young age.

At home, I was restricted to my room. I wasn’t allowed to see my mother until I healed completely. Bull and cock traditions. What would happen if I saw her? I walked around in a lesso when she wasn’t around that is. After a gruelling month, I finally healed. A small party was thrown, where I wore my only suit. A suit I later offloaded to a younger cousin. Suits are my Waterloo, I am not a fan. Since then, I have been playing hide and seek with suits. They tried chasing me to law school but I left. I am completely not into suits. Each time I try to don one, I feel awkward. I start sweating and I can even faint, they are just not my thing.

The only good thing during the circumcision process is that you’re Emperor. You hold your folks at ransom. And all the other people in the house are your subjects. They will do your bidding, whatever you ask. Even your father addresses you as ‘my Lord’. Ha ha! I’ve pushed that one.

But then, I used to sit around the house and fatten up. I ate whatever I wanted to eat. There was an endless supply of fries, daily. Man, life was good. Watching movies and lazing around. I could only watch Chinese movies though, Jet Li and Jackie Chan whooping each other’s asses. No movies with a sexual tone. Because that could lead to a hard-on and all initiates will tell you that nobody wants a boner while still healing. It’s a time that no man wishes to rise to the occasion. The occasion can as well go to hell.

It has been over a decade since I underwent the process which supposedly would make me a ‘man’ fit to dine and wine with elders in society. Of late I have been asking questions about manhood and what it really entails to be a man. Looking back, I wonder if my initiation has made me a better man?

 Of course, I wouldn’t like to have a foreskin still dangling on me but then, does the process itself make someone a real man? And of guys who have not faced the knife, for one reason or the other, are they lesser men? What kind of people have they turned out to be in life? Do they sit at night and wonder what could have happened if they faced the knife? Would they be better fathers? Would they be better husbands? Would they be better boyfriends?

You who have faced the knife or not, what do you think of all this? And the womenfolk reading this, would you prefer a circumcised man or, Ahem! A guy yet to be joined with his ancestors?

 Emmy Wilson, want to go first?


20 comments:

  1. No movies with a sexual tone. Because that could lead to a hard-on and all initiates will tell you that nobody wants a boner while still healing. It’s a time that no man wishes to rise to the occasion. The occasion can as well go to hell.

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    1. As you've said it πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™

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  2. This whole thing about circumcision and if it makes a man is all confusing. I'ld say some do it coz it is the norm but that's something else. Narrowing it down we all want to be seen as men, and cutting the foreskin definitely counts..did you say "friggin" πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚.. I love it πŸ‘Œ

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    1. Absolutely.. Friggin πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

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  3. First,the guy who killed the snake����yikes...I cant even look at one.I don't really know so much about circumcision but I don't think it's the first thing that comes to a lady's mind when they see a man...at least not me���� but anyway at the end of the day I don't think it defines who a man is.

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  4. What is it with older boys...eehhm men..lying to boys? My brother told my young son his whole penis would be chopped off. Smh

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    1. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ Ati what... The whole organ hivyo tu

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  5. No man really can forget tha day his circumcisionis suae got chopped off after all lies from circumcised elder bro and those Sherehes after 😁😁

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    1. It's a red letter day. To relive out composition days

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  6. In an African man’s life, there are four monumental events. Birth. Circumcision. First experience with a woman. And ultimately death.

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  7. I salute you manπŸ‘πŸΎπŸ‘πŸΎ.
    Your writing is so good I can't stop laughing πŸ˜‚.

    I think baby boomers put a lot of emphasis on circumcision (just the act of cutting the foreskin) and not really on what really makes a man. Manners maketh a man. Virtues are what these processes should imbue. Not unnecessary egocentrism and a false sense of superiority.

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    1. Thanks for reading.. Well
      πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ Manhood is tricky. You can't understand it. Like trying to understand a woman

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  8. It's laughter all the way to the end.

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