The Africanists

Insights. Comments. Thoughts. Analysis. Africa.

A revolution in Maasai land: the great alternative rite of passage

 Photography Anja Ligtenberg

Pink and yellow balloons hanging on the acacia trees sway, under the thump of a disco beat, in the wind.   In the schoolyard shrill voices of Maasai schoolgirls can be heard. They sing to the tune of ancient songs about brave warriors and dangerous lions. But the lyrics are different, because they call for the banishment of female circumcision and ditching the practice into the dustbin of history. While posing for a group portrait they unabashedly jut their pelvis forward. Then under the stars and a waning moon, they light hundreds of candles. The young girls are now ready for the important event tomorrow: the ceremony marking their transition to womanhood. But this time no blood will flow.

A zebra does not despise its stripes. The Maasai pastoralists in Kenya and T