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Friday, 20 October 2017

Rituals of Males Circumcision in Rural White Nile State (1)

Male circumcision was not only viewed as a religious practice but it was also a well-celebrated social tradition and custom

.Different communities in Sudan used to accord it due attention and consideration as a passage rite .It is sandwiched between the birth and marriage rites .It used to be surrounded by a variety of festivities and celebrations. Lavish feasts go hand in hand with overnight dancing parties in which revelers enthusiastically peel off even their inner clothing to face horrible lashes of the whip on their bare backs. The practice of mutual flogging was commonplace in circumcision and marriages .It was carried against the background of heart piercing beats of drums and loud ululations of women and girls as a testament to men's virility and manliness. The tool was a long tarred whip made from cattle hides. Blood ooze profusely from the back of the person being voluntarily flogged who is expected to show a great deal of endurance and courage  because  the slightest wiggling would make him a laughing and gloating stock  in the eyes of the community . Even distant relatives and kins would come from far places to attend .The men folk  make loud tones in chorus through blowing air into their clenched hands while their feet bat the ground in unison .Unfortunately this wonderful custom has almost died down these days with the whole fun and rejoicing it creates .The accompanying rites and activities ownership had been wrestled by marriages due to the socio-economic upheavals that continue to impact the Sudanese society coupled with the current fast-paced lifestyle. Today male circumcision occasions are low profile and lackluster events exclusively attended by nucleus family and the nearby neighbours. In rural white Nile male circumcision used to take place during summer school holidays. This season is colloquially called Alroshash .Alroshash comes hot on the heels of winter. At this time the giant water pumps come to a grinding halt. The big creaking machines go silent on a five month long undesired  lull .These machines pump the water into the  poorly dug snaky canals that irrigate large swathes of land straddling the rural communities  who dropped their miserable nomadic lifestyle  and opted for a settled one as peasants  after the construction of Jebel Aulia hydro electric dam in the first half of the twentieth century. The dam lake had inundated the riverside small agricultural holdings locally called Jiroofs .those Jiroofs provided only subsistence farming activities unlike the mass agricultural production  which followed the inauguration of the livelihood projects.  .The villagers would tell the onset of Alroshash season by the disappearance of weekly dark thick clouds of smoke that loom over the sky .Although polluting and environment unfriendly they were. But paradoxically enough they were a sign of good omen .The smoke is the waste of water pumps released from large exhaust chimneys. It is a harbinger of gushing water flow which irrigates thirsty crops and provides free source of drinking water to the people and their livestock. The happiest moments were the ones in which canals burst their banks and rims as result of being filled beyond capacity. People exchange this news gleefully like the children in the morning of Eid or like the inhabitants of the Northern hemisphere who celebrate the appearance of the sun after frosty days .The villagers tended to be oblivious to the  ensuing risks which follow this overflow such as the drowning of children who venture to swim regardless of the  inevitable parental and school painful lashings .The swimming in canals also carries the risk of catching the deadly disease of Bilharzia .By this time the cash earning cotton would have been picked and collected in large gunny sacks called Bals which used to be loaded onto large trucks by hooks because it was so heavy for porters and beyond their limited physical strength .The cotton would eventually end up in hungry stomachs of the gins which separate the cotton fibre from the seeds. The gin was located in the provincial town of Alduem .The remaining cotton plant leaves are a delicacy fodder for the livestock. The leaves were very nutritious. The milk dripped from the udders of the feeding  sheep ,cows and goats  after this sumptuous meal .It becomes omnipresent in every household .Grandmothers  with their  greying hair could be seen churning bladders Girbas to extract the cream which is converted into the hotly sought after gee by boiling .They make the remaining sour milk into a local wine-like yoghurt called Gobasha. Gobasha is extremely delicious and has an intoxicating effect like wine .It sends its drinkers into deep sleep immediately after consumption particularly the heavy ones .