PART ONE– PREPARATIONS
In Samburu culture, immediately the girl is born, she is separated from her mother by a young girl who cuts the umbilical cord.
There is a celebration that is held called “IKIPOKET”. During this celebration, fathers are not supposed to neither participate nor feast in any way. However, they are given a share of heads of animals slaughtered.
The beads are prepared and a necklace is made which is worn around the ankles and around the waist. The beads are normally made of 3 colours; red, green and blue.
As the girl matures, more and more necklaces are made for her. The more the beads, the more beautiful the girl. The girls are closely monitored by their grandmothers who ensure that their behavior is in accordance with their customs.
According to the Borana, the girl is expected to inform her mother when she is ready for the cut. However, if the mother notices her daughter is afraid, she prompts her to decision or approaches her elder sister to encourage her to suggest that she wants to be circumcised.
After the girl makes a decision, then it is the role of the mother informs the circumciser and pays the fee.
The initiate is expected to go round informing her peers and inviting them to the function. This begins from the day the girl announces about her willingness and readiness for circumcision. Celebrations are expected in the homestead every evening until the material day. Both boys and girls to dance and feast.
PART TWO – THE DAY BEFORE
The day before the material day, the mother of the initiate wakes up at dawn and goes to the river with a specially prepared and well beaded calabash, to fetch very cold water and mix it with some little milk. While the mother is at the river, a small bed is prepared by other women on which the initiate is to sleep on, the day before and during the healing period.
The bed is normally made from “lokitigai” leaves which are spread on the bed first and then followed by a skin.
On the same day, the initiate’s hair is shaved by her biological mother and her head smeared with brown clay by a relative. The brown clay is mixed with red clay. The mixture is then mixed with 1kg of sheep oil, which makes the second layer on the bear head. Girls of the same age bring their empty bottles in order to be given some mixture to apply on their heads as well.
Celebrations begin. This day, food is prepared. A he-goat is slaughtered by young married people. They prepare rings from the skin and this is the ring that the girl wears during her wedding day. Boys are also invited this day to come and dance.
Chains are adorned on her by her grandmother and then the dressing is done by a person chosen by the parent. These are the chains “sayet” that the initiate will wear as she dance during that night.
During this night, the initiate is supposed to feed on meat and not any other food including water.
The Material Day
The water that the mother had fetched the previous day is poured on the initiate’s body while it is chilly. In this case, the initiate should remain calm. She should not show any feelings otherwise she is termed a coward.
As the girls wait for the circumcision, men are not expected within the homestead. The initiate should be surrounded by women and young girls. Those girls who are present and have not been circumcised are supposed to see what they are also likely to face come their time to be circumcised.
There is always a special knife meant for circumcision. During the operation, the girl is to be supported by two women. In case the biological mother dies, those two women or supporters take full responsibility of the girl.
While the operation is being done there are songs sang to encourage the initiate to withstand the pain. In case there are two girls in the same family who are being circumcised, the 1st born should be cut first and incase she “cries” it is automatic that the 2nd born will also “cry”.
After the operation the initiates are treated with “Ngorno” – fermented milk – which is applied to the wound to prevent too much bleeding.
After the circumcision, the cut clitoris is supposed to be burnt into ashes by the biological mother. The burning is done beside the house where the girl is secluded.
While in seclusion, she is restricted from taking any drinks apart from two mugs of oil that is got from sheep. The purpose of this oil is to facilitate healing of the wound.
She will receive information about marriage, and how to behave towards young boys who would show any interest.
She is supposed to take three weeks to heal. In case of delayed healing, she is called back and is expected to dress her body with cowry shells. This is done because the family suspects that the circumciser mishandled the girl during operation.
While in seclusion, she is not expected to take any bath. But she will apply oil over her body. The necklaces that are made for her are supposed to remain with her. In the case of a poor family, no necklaces are made. They are instead borrowed, and must be returned to the owner after the girl heals.
The initiate also wear black dresses which are bought by the parent. This black dress is supposed to be kept until another girl is circumcised. In case the girl is the last born, then the black dress is given to the circumciser after the initiate heals.
It is during seclusion period that the initiate is given a unique name.