Arusha Travel Blog

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My greatest cultural immersion so far, with the MRP, Modified Rite of Passage ceremony. A practice designed by the Maasai community to sustain their own culture & the community objectives of the ceremonies without the use of FGM. It would seem that causing pain & mutilation is universally accepted as being counter cultural, but to what extent is this true. Of course the concept of FGM is abhorrent to Westerners, and many others besides, but there’s always that nagging voice in the back of my head talking about not applying Western values to other cultures. But if that’s true then why has the community adapted and removed the practice of FGM with some encouragement from Aang Serian.

For a quick update on the practice, through community consultation, Aang Serian enabled the community to voice that the reason they practiced FGM was for a number of reasons, they believed it would protects from a certain disease, ensure faithfulness, the ceremony provides education, provides a component of struggle (the girls must go through a test before entering the women hood age caste) and it allows the community to in accepting the newly adorned women. My biase here is obvious, as I’m fully in support of the MRP ceremonies, but the MRP seems like the obvious solution. With the help of facilitators many communities I have questioned whether the practice actually protects from diseases, no, ensure faithfulness, no, and whether there are other ways to provide education, the element of accomplishment & acceptance in the community. So all that is literally removed from the ceremony is the actually cutting and the 6 months in isolation that occurs afterwards.

My most major observation of the ceremony itself, is that this practice is far greater a party or a social gathering, hence the social acceptance element, than a ritual. While there was a cow sacrifice, cooking, dancing & adoring the subjects, these seemed to be completed ad-hoc and in different incarnations. I’m assuming this relative flexibility is partly the reason of the successes of the MRP programme.

We travelled back from Eluwai in a pickup truck with 28 of us hanging out the pack, got to see the stars for the moment though, full milky way in view, am going to have to spend some time up here during my stay.
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photo by: Mikie