Kenya & Maasai: The Enkipaata Ceremony

There are two types of enkipaata, a ceremony before circumcision, one for boys and one for warriors. After the ceremony of Enturoroto e motonyi, the boys wait for four years, or as long as their godfather-group wants them to stay, before they have their first enkipaata dance. And, only when the godfather-group wants to hold the enkipaata dance, will they tell the boys to undertake olamal, a delegation.

When this delegation has gone round for about fourteen days, it changes into a type of aggressive war-party, which picks out certain houses. This war-party consists also of elders of the godfather-group. The boys tie bells on their arms and legs and pick out certain families to take along to the enkipaata ceremony. The families of the godfather-group and those of the boys of the circumcision-group are taken to the manyata, the provisional settlement built for ceremonies.

When the settlement comes together at the site which the elders of the godfather-group have selected, these elders collect oxen according to the number of clans, four for each clan, which the people will eat whilst the boys hold their enkipaata ceremony. The boys start with the dance of the red ochre. This is a dance sung only by the boys, done up with red ochre, until evening, singing and dancing with the girls in the middle the manyata.

For two days, they hold the dance of the red ochre, singing and dancing it in the kraal. When these two days are over, the kudu horn is blown early before dawn. The boys put on all their finery and black clothes, laying aside their usual patterned clothss. Eight elders of the godfather-group lead them to pits of white chalk. Before 9:00am., the boys arrive back at the manyata going in circles, being led by the elders in four lines whilst dancing.

At around 1:00pm, they lay down all their finery and black clothes and go to the skewers to eat meat. Early next day they go again to the chalk-pits coming back to dance.

On this last day, the godfather elders bless them and decide on a name for the circumcision for them. When it dawns again, they move from the manyata to nearby fenced-off spots and stay there one day. And when it dawns again, they disperse to return to their homes. All this happens exactly the same again at the second enkipaata dance, four years after the first one. Then, the horn of the Ox ceremony is the only one left before the boys are circumcised.

During the Eunoto ceremony of the warriors, the warriors begin to dance the dance of the red ochre on the fifth day. All loosen their long strands of hair and they sing and dance for two days in the middle of the settlement. When the dance of the ochre is over, early in the morning, the godfathers will blow the kudu’s horn.

The warriors wear all their finery, the lion-mane headdresses, the birds’ feathers and ostrich-feathers on their heads. They all put on black clothes, and they lay down their usual patterned clothes and all their weapons of war, so that they are left only with shields to dance afterwards. Eight elders of the godfather-group lead them to the chalk pits, and lead them back again in rows to dance some more.

They dance the dance of the white chalk for two days, but on the last day of the white-chalk-dance, the godfathers decide on a new name.

At the next dawn, they all are shaved, first the Olotuno, then the other office-bearers. All warriors are later shaved. The one to be shaved sits on a skin and a stool without any crack is also placed on it and on this rests the milk. The hair is then taken to the cattle-pen.

– Frans Mol

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