Sunday, September 13, 2020

The Sambian Boy’s Initiation Rites

The Sambian people of Papua New Guinea practice one of the most bizarre cultures known to westernisation. So bizarre was this culture that a cultural anthropologist, Gilbert Herdt, described their ritual act of initiation as “ritualised homosexuality.”
For clarity, the people of Sambia do not think of this as homosexuality but a ritual to attain male development. To them, this ritual is necessary to attain the status of a “warrior” compared to the weaker gender.
Once they turn seven or nine, they are taken away from their mothers. This process allows for the detachment of the boys from their mothers who it is believed to have contaminated blood. Women are also said to possess powers (tingu) that make them easily manipulate men. The woman’s tingu is reinforced every time she undergoes her menstrual circle. As such, there is a need to deliver these boys via a blood-letting ceremony.
The blood-letting ceremony involves beating the boys with long sticks on their nostrils until they bleed. That way, the woman’s tingu is completely got rid of.
Once this is done, he is made to perform fellatio on the older ones which they do not stop until they take in the semen because of the belief that “without this ‘male milk’ they will fail to mature properly.” it is believed that the semen contains “jurungdu” a substance that will make them stronger. More so, they are kept aside for three years and maintain a strict diet to make them stronger. Defiance against this from the boys usually involves death.
Once they pass this stage, his father and kinsmen look for a wife for him. He has to wait until she has her first menstruation. While he awaits this, he is trained to disassociate himself from satisfying the woman fully because she might make him fall ill and die. When they marry, she must fellate him before sexual intercourse.

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