On Friday, August 6, we attended the local circumcision ceremony. Every other year at this time, Bugisu (the local tribe) boys ages 13-18 or so gather to commence a four month period of public circumcisions. At the opening ceremony, all of the eligible boys gather for a dancing competition. The group that wins is the first group circumcised.
It was so exciting. There's a fenced in area on the cultural grounds where the events take places. All of the townspeople line up outside the fence, stacked about 5 feet back and pressed tightly against one another in the sweltering heat. We were lucky enough to go with a group led by someone who is close the the president, so we were able to get seats underneath a tent inside the fenced area. Most of the day was spent listening to speeches we couldn't understand because a) the sound system was awful and b) the majority were not in English. The exciting parts were the dancing. Boys dressed and beads and bells were stomping all over the field. We technically weren't allowed to bring cameras in, but Nrupa and I were able to sneak one in, so we have pictures of all the dancing. It was great! We even joined in at one point!
The other exciting part (and the reason we weren't allowed to bring cameras in) was because the Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni, was in the audience (for about an hour). Nrupa and I missed his entrance because we were in the bathroom (by which I mean some random person's house). We couldn't take pictures while he was there, but he was sitting about 50 feet from us in this cool yellow tent. Then he gave a speech (also not in English) standing on a drive-up podium about 25 feet from us. I really wanted to take a picture, but they specifically said that no personal cameras were to be used while the President was in the audience. It wasn't worth getting shot and/or arrested.
The President left promptly after his speech, at which point the crowd rushed the field and we left. We didn't get to see any actual circumcisions, but apparently they only did 4, and the rest will be conducted over the coming months. I'm really not sure how they managed to do anyway with everyone pushing their way to see. I would not want be the guy with the knife...too much responsibility. Though I also wouldn't want to be the kid getting circumcised either. No pain killers. No sedatives. All they get is a stick to hold behind their necks...