Fulani Whip Match, W Africa - Terrific Traditions
08-08-2019    280 times
Fulani Whip Match Africa

Different ethnic groups around the world, have different rituals of initiating boys into manhood. While the boys belonging to the Satere-Mawe tribe of the Brazilian Amazon have to endure the painful ritual of the bullet ant glove test, the Hamer tribe, living in the far south west of Ethiopia, are known for performing the strange custom of bull jumping, which initiates a boy into manhood. Likewise, the Fulani tribe, living in Benin, West Africa, maintains the ritual of the Whip Match, which is a painful initiation into adulthood.

The nomadic Fulani people, consisting of a number of clans, spread across the West Africa. A couple times a year, if not more, some clans travel 50 miles or so to watch the painful initiation ceremony, serving as a clan bonding experience as well. The Fulani Whip Match is a customary brutal initiation into adulthood for the young men of the Fulani tribe, in Benin, West Africa.

Fulani Whip Match West Africa

To be considered a man in this tribe, young boys of around 12 have to participate in a duel of whips. Each fighter spends days together preparing for the match. They find a suitable branch of a tree, to be used as a stick, that they think will inflict the most pain on their opponent, sharpen it down to a light-saber width, and then head off to the duel.

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Once the two participants are ready to withstand the duel, neighbouring clans gather around the two to judge the winner of the battle. As the match begins, the first boy stands with his arms above his head, waiting for the other boy to start wailing on him with his sharpened branch. He takes three shots, and then the boys switch positions.

Fulani Whip Match West Africa

When each boy has taken his three shots, the crowd decides the winner, based on who hit the hardest and who flinched the least. In other words, throughout the entire process of the match, whoever flinches the least and whips the hardest is awarded the title of a man. The winner becomes a man overnight and becomes the centre of attraction of the crowd. Friends congratulate him, while the family throw talc powder on him and press coins on his forehead. However, the loser returns home as a boy and mentally makes himself determined for the next bout.

    Author Details
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
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