Ituri Forest Pygmies | Who Rules the Forest? National Geographic Magazine: Manhood Ritual | Ituri Forest, DR Congo

Manhood Ritual | Ituri Forest, DR Congo

After several months in the Ituri Forest, Pygmy boys have learned skills to survive on their own. They hunt, fish and learn to read the forest to recognize the slightest details. But on the last day of the nKumbi, the whipping is more severe and includes a ceremony where the boys are secluded within a phalanx of men all carrying whips. The men are met halfway thru the village with women carrying whips and a melee ensues–the intent is to control the destiny of the child. The women want the boy to stay a boy and the men want the boy to be acknowledged as a man. The men win. The boy is now a man and cannot be claimed as a child anymore by his mother. After the Bantu man raises his long branch to white, there is also ritual scarification. Each boy is paraded, one by one, through the village accompanied by a masked elder, and money is collected at his dancing feet.

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