Over 700 Surgeons Lined Up for 2016 Imbalu Ritual

2469 Views Mbale, Eastern Region, Uganda

In short
Local surgeons have been identified from the districts of Mbale, Bududa, Manafwa, Sironko and Bulambuli to be in charge of the tradition this year. Others were picked from areas that host large communities of Bamasaba in Bugerere, Buwenge, Kayunga, Kiryandongo in Uganda as well as Tran Nzoia and Bungoma in Kenya.

The Bamasaba cultural institution has lined up 713 local surgeons to conduct Imbalu ritual, a cultural tradition that has run for generations among the ethnic group.

The procedure, one of the most important cultural norms of the Bamasaba, represents the initiation into adulthood of boys aged 14 years and above.

Local surgeons have been identified from the districts of Mbale, Bududa, Manafwa, Sironko and Bulambuli to be in charge of the tradition this year. Others were picked from areas that host large communities of Bamasaba in Bugerere, Buwenge, Kayunga, Kiryandongo in Uganda as well as Tran Nzoia and Bungoma in Kenya.

Moses Kutoi, the Chairman organizing committee for the impending launch of Imbalu says the identified individuals will be screened for HIV and trained on basic safety and hygiene practices ahead of the Imbalu launch scheduled for Saturday August 6.  The launch will take place at Mutoto grounds.

Located near Mbale town in Bungokho south, Mutoto is the place where the first Imbalu (circumcision) ceremony was held 200 years ago.  The site has since hosted all subsequent Imbalu opening ceremonies and to date respected as the birthplace of the illustrious tradition.

Kutoi says that only those persons, who successfully complete the training and pass the screening exercise, will be certified to conduct circumcisions within the localities this circumcision year.
 
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Previously, local surgeons with basic skills for circumcision would be allowed to operate without health and safety screening.  Some of them would use one non-sterilized knife on several candidates, a practice that was blamed for an increase in HIV infections.

In the new guidelines, each of the certified surgeons is expected to have a minimum of 10 knives, according to Kutoi.

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Kutoi said the clan heads will be responsible for the monitoring and supervision of the local surgeons to ensure that those who do not pass the health test, are not involved in circumcision rituals.

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The initiation ceremony which takes place every even year has been categorized as one of the most attractive cultural events that draw audiences from various parts of the world to the Elgon region.

Months of August to December, 2016, will be guided with rhythmic dancing and crowd moving stunts with a more local exhibition dance of "Kadodi" in villages and streets, as initiates boost their confidence three weeks or few days before they face the knife.

Initiates, who don themselves in more light but colorful outfits, are designed by elders within their communities, having them dressed with animal hides, colorful beads with ash-like painted faces from an ingredient of the local brew known as "Busera" to make them look fierce and bold to go through the ritual.

 

About the author

Denis Olaka
Denis Olaka is the URN bureau chief for Lira, in northern Uganda. Apac and Otuke fall under his docket. Olaka has been a URN staff member since 2011.

Olaka started his journalism career in 2000 as a news reporter, anchor, and then editor for Radio Lira in Lira district. He was subsequently an editor with Lira's Radio Wa in 2004 and Gulu district's Mega FM.

He was also a freelance writer for the Daily Monitor and Red Pepper newspapers.

Olaka's journalism focuses on politics, health, agriculture and education. He does a lot of crime reporting too.