THE MACUA - HISTORICAL DATAContinue reading
ECONOMIC ACTIVITIESContinue reading
SOCIETY AND INDIVIDUALContinue reading
SOCIAL STRUCTUREPubblicazione: 3 agosto 2015. Continue reading
LIFE AND COSMOVISIONPubblicazione: 10 agosto 2015. Continue reading
RITES OF PASSAGE - The birthContinue reading
RITES OF PASSAGE - The initiation rites of young peopleContinue reading
RITUALS OF PASSAGE – The initiation rituals of young femalesContinue reading
RITUALS OF PASSAGE - Matrimony, Sexual Relations, DivorceContinue reading
ILLNESS AND HEALING RITUALSContinue reading
MACUA – RITES OF PASSAGE – The initiation rites of young females
Column by Dr. Timi GASPARI
anthropologist and specialist of the peoples of Mozambique
Girls live freely, no differently to males, and they create a very strong bond with their mother until the moment of initiation.
The female initiation is not as concentrated as that of males, instead it is made up of many different rituals separated by long periods of time, during which the girl is gradually separated from her sexless, young child’s world and aggregated to society as an adult woman.
When the young girl has her first period, her godmother and another four or five teachers begin teaching her at night in her home for several weeks. During these training sessions, she is taught what the menstrual cycle is, her personal hygiene, how to behave in society, how to dress for various occasions, and how to run a home. A lot of sexual education is also given. During these days great attention is paid to the dreams that the initiate has: dreaming of an ox is a sign of life, while dreaming of a leopard can be a signal warning of death or bad luck.
A few months after this preliminary phase, the girls must go through the separation phase, when they remain for about ten days in a field outside the community in maximum social segregation. Teaching is intensified during this phase, and is transmitted using a symbolic language accompanied by gestures, mimes and dances. Singing and dancing specialists use proverbs, riddles and songs, the most effective literary forms for fixing the training received in the girls’ minds. Even here, affronts and insults are used to make the girls humble and urge them to improve.
A small cut (nothing shocking) is made on the clitoris of the young girls as a sign of their initiation. Their ability to find some medicinal plants is tested, and their sexual education is started, with the anatomy of the two genders being explained to them, together with specific techniques, the prohibition of incest and the rule of exogamy (prohibition of marriage to a person of the same bloodline). The labia of the vulva are also lengthened with massages using vegetable oils and unguents; in reality it is a practice started in children when they are small, because it is felt that it increases the pleasure of men. The Makua women are very proud of these rituals and beliefs, because they feel as if they are complete women who are aware of their body, with which they have a deep relationship, and they know how to give and receive pleasure. On this matter, I recommend reading the book “Niketche” by Paulina Chiziane, which was translated into Italian a few years ago: you may no longer find it in bookshops, but it is certainly in libraries. It is a story that speaks of polygamy, where one of the main characters is a Makua woman. Sexuality and sexual education are spoken about extensively in it.
Towards the end of the initiation, some small tattoos are placed on the face, chest, stomach and pubic region. Women receive a new name with both an individual and a collective meaning during these rituals.
When the girl is considered to be ready, a celebration is prepared in her house with food, dancers and musicians and the girl, who has been transformed and given a new name, is presented to society by the head instructor.
MACUA – RITUALS OF PASSAGE – Matrimony, Sexual relations, Divorce
(TO BE CONTINUED… )