Uganda has a cultural ritual called “Embalu,” or circumcision practiced in Eastern part of the country. The practice is done every two years and marks a teenage boy’s crossing over into manhood. The candidates are usually between 10 and 18 years of age and must prove that they are men by not revealing the pain of the process. Sometimes mature men who didn’t not perform the ritual at early age are hunted and mostly forced to go through the process.
The government looks at this event as a major tourist attraction in future magnetizing people from all over the major countries in the world
The festival is always graced by A dance across the village by family members and well wishers or witnesses of the candindate.
However, the rudimental way in which the circumcision is often carried out can be a risk for the young men. One potential complication is that sometimes the same knife is used on more than one candidate. Still, the practice is taken seriously, as uncircumcised men in the community are seen as a disgrace to their families.
According to Damascus Situma Muyanda, a cultural leader within the Bamasaba tribe, some young men are even hunted and circumcised by force.
“If you had children and you are not circumcised yourself, your children may grow up undisciplined and some may die prematurely,” said Muyanda.
Every two years, hundreds of young Bamasaba are circumcised in elaborate ceremonies. The practice is not limited to rural areas, as Bamasaba living in urban areas even the capital, Kampala carry out such rituals. Sixteen-year-old Martin Situka was among the first to be circumcised.
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“I grew up knowing that a real Bamasaba should be circumcised. So I am sure that I will be circumcised and I will finish this ceremony very well,” he said. After the circumcision, the boys are pronounced men.
Bamasaba women are even encouraged to report their uncircumcised husbands to tribal elders.
Many traditional rituals have recently been discouraged, but Embalu is not one of them. Now the authorities are trying to enlist the help of traditional leaders to make the practice safer.
The Uganda and Kenya Tourism boards are looking to turn the tradition into an attraction. They have agreed to jointly promote Embalu circumcision ceremonies in Eastern Uganda and Western Kenya. John Sempebwa is the Executive Director of the Uganda Tourism Board.
“Uganda expects at least 2,000 Kenyans and a numerous number of tourists for the ceremony whenever it is carried out. Each of them comes with money because they need hotels, food, entertainment and drinks,” said Sempebwa.
President Yoweri Museveni himself encourages this ritual. He said it fits in well with today’s modern society where all men are encouraged to get circumcised for health purposes.
Tourism experts intend to market the Embalu festivals across the world using Ugandan embassies in the hope that the ceremonies will bring in additional tourists.
VIDEO:Embalu Circumcision Ceremony New Ugandan