An uncircumcised man partakes in a traditional circumcision ceremony in the urban slum of Kibera. Nairobi, Kenya. 31/10/2010
Circumcision, a traditional passage to manhood for many of the tribes in Kenya, is one still widely practiced throughout the country. With hundreds of thousands of people now living in urban slums, however, such traditional practices have evolved to take on entirely new forms.
In the slum's of Kenya the ceremony for circumcision is one that takes place in the streets, for all to see, over an entire morning. Firstly the boy being circumcised is covered in a paste made up of millet, usually used to make local beer, and is paraded through the streets for everyone to see. Together with his friends and men of his tribe each corner of the slum is visited in order to collect donations for the week after the operation, in which the circumcised male will not be allowed out of his house.
After a sufficient amount of money has been collected, the boy is then taken to a river in order to be washed. Finally after being washed the male is then taken to an open clearing outside his house, where his foreskin is cut off with a regular kitchen knife, and his penis then covered with dirt to stop the bleeding. If the male in question cries during the whole process, he is considered a coward by his community and will not be considered a man.
Though this ceremony is largely similar to that which is done in rural areas, the fact that it is done within an unhygienic urban environment adds huge risks to the circumcised male. With no clean water sources, the washing of the victim beforehand exposes the male to a host of diseases. Furthermore, with none of the instruments sanitized and the dirt from the ground made up of other people's refuse, there is simply no end to the number of risks in such a procedure.
Despite the number of risks involved, tradition and tribal practices continue to dominate many aspects of urban life. Perhaps this is because, in the new cities of Africa where so little is familiar, tradition is still one of the few things that still allows for people to retain their identity.