The importance of initiation in any one East African society during the pre-colonial period

The importance of initiation in any one East African society during the pre-colonial period

In pre-colonial societies, the circumstance was seen as cultural, religious ceremonies which involved the cutting off of the foreskin of the male organs while clitoridectomy involved cutting a portion of the female organs (clitoris).

This was more common among the Kikuyu, Sabiny, Galla,
Masasi communities of East Africa.

It involved testing one’s physical or psychological fitness.


  • It was a proof of child’s ability, strength and courage to became an adult if the child swallowed the pain of the knife, it was a sign of bravely and he/she would be accepted as an accepted as an adult.
  • This circumcision young people got connected to their ancestors as it was believed that the blood of the circumcised would lick on the ground to connect to the ancestors.

  • It enhanced marriage ceremonies that are; it was only the circumcised who were allowed to marry officially therefore it was a step to marriage among the societies that circumcised.
  • It was also an economic activity that enabled the circumcised to get many gifts that is; cattle, goats, chicken, and men among the Sabiny for enduring the pain and as a record for someone’s bravely. it improved the social and economic status of the circumcised person.
  • Among the Sabiny female circumcision was believed to reduce the women’s sexual appetite and hence prevented temptations and adultery which ensured stable sexual marriages thus social unity. Among men, it reduced Sexually Transmitted Diseases/Infections such as syphilis and gonorrhea which would hide germs under the foreskin of the man’s private part.
  • It was a way of presenting culture since it was an acceptable norm or value therefore carrying it out was cultural preservation.
  • It was a social function that acted as a source of entertainment since it was accompanied by songs, joy and dancing. For example the popular “Kadodi” among the Bagishu was a source of entertainment at the same time a cultural practice.

  • Through circumcision, the medicine men carried a lot of wealth because they were assigned duty to treat or cure the circumcised person; such wealth came in from cattle, land, food stuff, women, etc.
  • Through the practice of circumcision initiation, the youth were provided with identification marks scars for recognition as members of a given community, such included writing on ends face as it was a common practice among the Alur people Northern Uganda.
  • With circumcision, an adult qualified for responsibility that home and in a community. Also one was prepared to enjoy full privileges and various responsibilities after being initiated/circumcised.
  • Circumcision/initiation was a form of traditional schooling where the youth were equipped with matters of life and how to be full members of society. Leading to society responsibility among the pre-colonial societies.
  • Through circumcision/ignition of youth were provided with physical training that cultivated courage, endurance, and obedience for society. Thus the process prepared the young ones to be courageous and determined for life.

NOTE: Unfortunately, modern scholars trace condemned circumcision as it was a painful process for a normal person since no pain healing herbs were used. Among all
humanitarians urged that by carrying that circumcision that it was not against God’s natural creation that is; putting off one’s part of the body.


Published by


IAM experienced geography teacher with more than three years of teaching and creating content related to geography and other subjects for both high school and college students. hope you will find the content of this website useful to your studies and daily life