Among Bamba clans, circumcision took place after every seven years of age unlike today where a baby boy is circumcised after birth. This involved a series of cultural activities including seven days of traditional dances, initiation of the candidates where folk tales would be taught and special tradition surgeons with enormous experience would be called upon to carry out the circumcision live without anesthesia. The candidates for circumcision would be put in one room called Kigombe sleeping on wrapped fresh banana leaves called Mpbisi until they heal. Many traditional things happened while in Kigombe and when leaving it.
Uncircumcised baby boys were not allowed to eat mahuli (eggs), Nkwali (guinea fowl), Bilenge Byenkoko (legs of chicken), Kilibbhata (duck) etc. this was intended to help them avoid developing too many blood veins and muscles that could possibly cause excessive breeding during circumcision ceremony when their term came.
During circumcision, family members prepared local brew (Waragi, Tonto) and other local potent gins for drinking and enjoyment; traditional dances (muledu/libghaya) took place for seven days; animal skins, raffia skirts rattle were won; boys would step on eggs; boys were given sugar canes for chewing during circumcision. A spear and bells were prepared. In the event of death of the candidate during circumcision, the traditional surgeon would be speared to death.
After circumcision and healing of the wounds: traditional dances were performed; food and drinks were served and gifts were offered to the circumcised being initiated into adulthood. The graduates from circumcision would be required to take their fore skins (Bisusu) to their maternal uncles with 2 birds where in return each graduate were given a goat with one bird/chicken.
Circumcision till the present day is a compulsory requirement among the Bamba as a whole, serving as a symbol of passage from childhood to adulthood; to avoid stigma and isolation in the community and to ensure that every man is healthy enough to produce kids.
After the birth of every baby boy, the child would be retained in the house for a month. When exposing the child out to the public, a naming ceremony could be conducted. Local delicacies like Kodiko, dry fish, chicken, beans, matooke, Gonja, rice, Kahunga etc. Additionally, dry banana leaves were made as a bed put in the compound for the child and a child of the opposite sex was made to lie on this bed with the new baby.
If the baby was a boy, a bow with arrow, catapult, (and now recently a book & a pen), a sickle headed traditional panga called muholo, spear etc could be given. These gifts varied depending on the sex of the baby as baby girls could be given knives, brooms and other feminine gifts. A grandparent of the new baby would come forward, break a piece of kahunga (cassava flour) deep it in chicken stew and swallow it with pomp and name a child. It was a traditional and cultural requirement.
Traditionally, marriage was an exchange of young, adolescent girls for girls of similar taste from friendly clans without necessarily involving paying bride wealth/dowry of goats and cash or birds. By then, paying dowry of goats would mean taking a woman as your servant (Musyana/Nzana). The cost was only seven goats and later it was increased to twelve goats. The dowry would be paid through a middle man called Mukwenda. Today, marriage has become more expensive to the extent that people tend to sell land in order to marry.
The most common kind of or Process of marriage was elopement – locally termed Kuhaiya Mukali (Tisyaga Nkali). Men then grabbed women through a middleman called Mukwenda from a carefully selected family by elders in the home and one needed just between five to seven (5-7 ) chicken (Bhakoko) as a fine called Misanga.
Birth of twins
During this ceremony, the father of twins called Salongo would contribute two goats with two chicken, mushrooms, dried fish and cassava flour where one goat and one cock is taken to the in-laws who intern ritually slaughter them caste away the bad omen associated with twins. Culturally, twins were synonymous with ghosts and similar items would be given to kinsmen to the father of the twins (Ssabalongo) who would also enjoy them ceremoniously singing obscene songs directed to both Nabalongo (the mother of the twins) and vice versa, all accompanied with drinking local gin, Tonto and Waragi.
Prepared by: Owenguko Kamui Jim Gilbson Deputy Speaker KUSEI
As narrated by: Samusoni Somyo, Langiya Sub Clan Elder
Edited and images by: Dr. Swizen Kyomuhendo