Kenya is a country in East Africa. It has forty-two tribes each with a distinct culture. The Meru tribe is one of them. It is a Bantu ethnic group that resides on Mount Kenya’s agriculturally rich northeastern slopes, in Kenya’s Eastern Province. The name Meru refers to both the people and the location. The Meru are primarily agrarian, raising a few domestic animals.
Before the boys are ready for the rite, they will have undergone an initiation ceremony and several feats of endurance among themselves. Each village has its own gang of boys but all are coordinated by leaders elected among themselves. There is a strict code of discipline and any disobedience is met with appropriate punishment, ranging from small fines to being ostracized from the group.
Prior to the great day, the boy will have paid visits to all his distant relatives. The parents direct him where to go because he may not know all of them. He is usually accompanied by friends walking in a single file and singing. These songs are poetical narratives passing messages on what the boy has gone through, what he anticipates, and begging pardon to anybody he had wronged. Elders and women are greeted through the songs when found on the way.
On the eve of circumcision, there is dancing in the homes of the boys who will undergo the rite. The songs are meant to instill courage, scorn and mock the cowards. They harden the boys and make them ready to face the circumciser’s knife. The dancing is conducted by young men who have already undergone the rite and are enthusiastic to usher others into manhood. They dance with swords and clubs, chains of jingles firmly fastened to their legs, and blowing huge horns from kudus. Young women also join in the dancing.
On the same night, the boy has to get someone who will take care of him after circumcision. Usually, he is directed by the family to choose a man of good moral conduct and should not be his father’s age mate. This man will be the boy’s guardian. He will tend to the boy during the period of seclusion, guide the young initiate and introduce him to the mysteries of manhood and ways of the tribe. The boy will always be expected to refer to him as “father” as long as he lives.
One only needs to visit Meru which is an exciting place and learn more about its people.
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