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The Fulani Festival That Is Celebrated By Flogging

Photo: Omenka Online

Many indigenous cultures in Africa often have rites of passage for male adolescents. These traditions may vary from culture to culture, sacrifice, hunting, tests of bravery, strength and fortification. One of such indigenous people would be  the Fulani of West Africa. These people practice the Sharo Festival diligently. The word Sharo means flogging. It is a public ceremony that shows the bravery and endurance of boys who passing into manhood. The festival is held twice a year. The first of the festival is usually held during the dry season when guinea corn is being harvested, and the second during the Muslim festival of Id-el-Kabir.

The Sharo Festival is held for a week in an open place such as a market square. The festival starts up with various forms of performances by tricksters, minstrels, and maiden dancers. The main part of the festival begins with the arrival of bare-chested, unmarried men who are escorted to the center ring by beautiful young girls. Hopes are raised by the melodious drumbeats and thunderous cheers of the spectators while contenders eye their challengers. The families of the contenders watch and pray not to be disgraced by their sons, because a son who cannot endure the flogging brings disgrace to the family.

Many contenders often recite mantras during the flogging rite or undergoe a traditional fortification process in preparation for the day. This is because withstanding high amounts of pain is quite difficult. These severe floggings often leave scars on the proud contenders who believe the scars are marks of courage and a successful transition to manhood. After the flogging, the brave boys become men and are giving permission to marry the girl of their choice.

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Sharo fesitival
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