Kenneth Juror | Kenya
We may have seen individuals who do not have six lower teeth notably, the people’s watchman, Martin Shikuku. The gap was not only for a selected community but others have gaps though not as big as removal of the six lower teeth, perhaps one or two, which is a story for another day.
Today however, I will attempt to elucidate the procedure of how the Luos underwent their initiation; removal of the six lower teeth.
Boys and girls who were between the ages of 12-15 qualified for this age-old-initiation-rite which was to be a gigantic event.
The initiate knelt facing the extractor who was armed with a sharp-pointed-end of a hoe, no anesthetic was used. The sharp end was forced in between the middle of the incisors. Once the first middle tooth had been removed, the remaining incisors on both sides will have been shaken loose. As the hoe was being forced in between the lower dentition, a hole was dug next to the initiate for spitting blood flowing freely from the gum.
The five remaining teeth were hand extracted. The aftermath was not a sight to look at as the holes on the gum were gaping and quite frightening. Potassium permanganate was then poured on the holes so as to cure and more over sterilize the gum. The excruciating pain experienced during the process signified the rite of passage from childhood to adulthood on the other hand use of potassium did not make the situation any better as its reaction with saliva made the whole process quite agonizing.
Dr. Gikonyo Ndiuini, a dentist in Eldoret once told me that the procedure was more painful than the cut practiced these days! However, I would not wish to go into the debate on which is more painful to the other. This initiation ceremony has nevertheless been relegated as the cut is presently practiced.
The cut is however not practiced as an alternative rite of passage of the Luo and the other non-circumcising communities but rather an embraced medical procedure that reduces the chances of HIV/AIDS and cancer of the cervix infections.
I will cover the voluntary male circumcision in Nyanza in my subsequent blog.