Gitura Chronicles Gitura 3 – Circumcision and Kabaine

Living in towns is depressing.

You wake up at the same time in the morning, wear plain boring clothes, go to the same office or class, or job hunt – the whole day. Then you sit in traffic for endless hours, or in a bar or cafe depending on who you are, to waiting for traffic to reduce, get home, eat, sleep… Repeat.

Boring life, depressing life. That’s why you have to watch TV and read gossip blogs, when you want to see realities that are a little different from yours. Poking your noses into the private, nay, open lives of Bahati, Kardashian, the housewives, Willy Pozee, and other boring lives that you somehow find interesting. Taimajini, I have a couple of 30+ year old friends who talk about Diamond’s baby-mamas like we did back in high school. Makes me feel like a grandfather.

But I don’t judge them, you have to add spice to your boring city life.

It’s so depressing I am getting a stress attack just talking about it. So, let me take you on another tour of my village!

By now you know Gitura. If you don’t, go read this, this and this. I’ll wait. As they say in our beloved miraa vioski, there is no hurry in Aprica.

Gitura is fun. So much fun you don’t need internet, or TV. Unless it’s Baite TV which talks about relatable village things. Places you know, people you have seen, “si hapa ni pale kwa Ntomwenda?” And then you discuss the feats of Ntomwenda, and his lineage for the next hour. See, fun! Not depressing politics by city political thieves.

You don’t even have time to watch TV, because you are busy socializing. Getting to know about people and caring about their welfare, genuinely. Gitura doesn’t need Nyumba Kumi and all that stuff. We all know everyone else. We meet everyone in the village church on Sunday and there are a thousand reasons and other places to see each other.

Maisha London – you work half-days in Gitura

Miraa work is in the morning, you feed the cows in the morning, you harvest tea in the morning, you fetch water in the morning…and then have the rest of the day to yourself. Sorry, to have fun with others.

Older men will find a spot by the road and talk for hours. Others will go pale kwa Kienj没ku and play nconga as they wait for evening to start discussions of development over miraa and coffee. The not-so-saved ones will go to Kinyago to drink Kaanga chang’aa and burn their livers – si liver ni zao? They will then stagger home later, singing circumcision songs.

Speaking of circumcision, the circumcision holidays are fun. Yes, there are circumcision holidays in my village – in April, August and the main one in November/December. They are proper carnivals with lots of song and dance.

The songs are X-rated… Much more explicit than NWA hip-hop. They are mostly about sex and people that have been misbehaving. You get caught romping in a bush, you become lyrics. You cheat on your husband, we sing you. You forbid your daughters from grooving with young men, they will say you are the one doing the deed with them. It’s all about sex and the songs will describe in detail what you did. Or did not do. Fun, right?

Oh, and during that season, young men don’t starve. You simply enter an initiate’s house, eat and drink to your fill, any time, every day. As the ntaane fattens, so do you (and you have to grow big in that confinement, otherwise your parents will be shamed). It’s a season of plenty. 馃檪

Kabaine

Then a few weeks after circumcision, there is a phenomenon called Kam没卯thia, or Kamontane, or Kabaine, or Waku没, or Mukala. If something or someone has so many names, then you know they are popular. Kabaine is popular, especially with kids and not-so-long-ago circumcised (more like Form 2s were excited after leaving Monocot).

The purpose of Kabaine is to burn the healing circumcised boys. Kabaine comes with a red-hot iron bar, goes into the boy’s k卯anda (ka-house) and burns the penis, right in the wound, to give it a glossy finish that will be admired by girls the world over. It’s a very painful procedure, but you should see the result. A beautiful, glossy, well rounded penis. And a man must endure pain anyway. What are men for?

Kabaine season is fun. Kabaine is not a person. It’s an animal from Ikamba (Ukambani) that looks a little like a man, but with hanging skin that looks like cow hide, a horrendous face, head that looks like a Columbus Monkey’s, and legs that rattle when it dances. It whistles rhythmically (pii-pi, pii-pi! And the assistant T没baine – lamale – and young men following it shout t没thi卯!). Children follow from a distance, because you get whipped for coming close – which is where the fun is, the adrenaline of being chased by a Kabaine. Oh, I miss that. They respect older women and men…but just don’t go close to a Kabaine if you are a K卯roe – circumcised in hospital under anesthesia like a coward.

One day, I will tell you Kabaine and circumcision stories that will make you want to park your bags and go to Gitura.


By the way, I write about Meru culture here.

7 Comments Gitura Chronicles Gitura 3 – Circumcision and Kabaine

  1. Jolland kaithia September 19, 2019 at 8:22 pm

    What a piece, I am a comedian accountant known as IKaLa alias ikende. I love your art

    Reply
    1. Bonface September 20, 2019 at 11:49 pm

      My guy! I love yhe description of the kabaine thing.
      The memories of me(mwiiyi amd other biiyi) following Kamwaa from kilalai, to Muthungutha, then to Kirima mpio and then finally end in Athiruare very fresh. Barefooted, dusty all iver, sweating all over from the encounters with the lamare. And then go home at around 7/8:00 for some good beating, since in most cases, the home chores were left undone at the sound of Pii pi pii pi….

      Reply
    2. Skipper September 21, 2019 at 1:51 am

      #ikala Franklin mwenda has done what uve been always telling I. From today I’ll no longer called nkalas ‘mengi’.

      Reply
  2. Skipper September 21, 2019 at 1:45 am

    Wow.. this is an awesome depiction of everything about the current struggles of a person I admire but the final part is joining everything together. Kabaine is synonymous with everyone circumcised in MERU.. tuthii…

    Reply
  3. Dan Murithi September 23, 2019 at 12:57 pm

    The MasterPiece.

    Reply
  4. Keren September 23, 2019 at 1:52 pm

    Thank you for disclosing what kabaine actually would come to do to our brothers….oh dear….kumbe kuchomwa was a real thing!??? Pheeew.I miss them old days

    Reply
  5. Teacher Gitonga September 23, 2019 at 8:08 pm

    Good piece of work, quite entertaining,inspire more youth to love their culture

    Reply

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