On Thursday May 26th, more than a week ago, we went to a youth CBO in Nyeri called NASISI. When we arrived five women dressed in traditional Kikuyu clothes dancing and singing welcomed us. It has become obvious to us that singing is the standard way to welcome a big group like ours anywhere. We danced our way into the center and went into a big room with high ceilings and a stage. We met the head of the group, Mike and played a bunch of icebreaker games that were pretty fun. We did a bunch of Kikuyu dances. One in particular stood out more than the others.
We were all dancing around in a circle with an empty chair in the middle. All of the sudden, as we were doing our best to copy what the Kikuyu women were doing, one of Mike’s co-workers grabbed me and pulled me into to the middle and put me on the chair. Then he gave everybody directions to come over as they were dancing and pretend to shave my head. So, everybody came over and rubbed my head and after they finished the guy said, “ok now he is ready for circumcision.” I was surprised like everybody else and we all started laughing. He came over and went under my traditional clothes that I was wearing and started pretending to carry out a circumcision. He was pulling on my shorts and telling me to act like I was in pain. So, that’s what I had to do for the rest of the celebration. I limped around while everybody was dancing and pretending to grimace while half chuckling at the same time. It was goofy but now that I was circumcised I had become a man and was given the name Jamba, which means warrior in Kikuyu. Since then, Dr. Wamai hasn’t failed to tell any doctors or professionals in the health field that we meet that I have been circumcised.
After the youth center, we traveled with Mike, to an all girls catholic school nearby. When we got there, they sang for us and danced but they were way more organized and energetic than any other group we visited. After their performance we felt kind of obligated to do something for them, so we attempted to sing build me up buttercup and lean on me. Half of us didn’t know the words but a few of the girls carried us and the kids laughed so it was worth it. We then got to talk to the girls from the school and one of them grabbed my hand and started bringing me around the school. She showed me all the classrooms and in every one the girls freaked out when she brought me in. One girl was going especially crazy so I went over to her and shook her hand and when that made her even more flustered I gave her a big hug and the whole class laughed hysterically as she was near tears of excitement. It was weird but it was funny. It was so goofy how these kids were freaking out just because I, a white, American teenager was there.