Pongezi, Girl to woman without a knife - PhMuseum

Pongezi, Girl to woman without a knife

Anja Ligtenberg

2011 - Ongoing

Kenya

Pongezi, Alternative Rites Of Passage for Maasai girls, woman without the knife

PONGEZI A photostory by Anja Ligtenberg about alternative rites of passage, replacing traditional circumcision with education for Maasai girls in Kenya. Pongezi means congratulations in Swahili. Congratulations to the girls who are now women without being circumcised and to a community that had the courage to break with a centuries-old tradition. In the new ritual, the girls are not circumcised but they do celebrate all the beautiful traditional rituals, such as the shaving of the head, the dancing, the drinking, the singing, and the face painting. Instead of the cutting, the Maasai choose to give the girls an extra education. Moreover, their parents promise not to marry them off until they have completed their studies. Because the men and the elders are approached first in the process and shown respect, every one in the community accepts the girls as woman, societal change happens harmoniously.

This transformation spreads fast. Today, up to 16.000 girls have undergone this alternative ritual. Recently, their Maasai community member and anti FGM activist, Nice Nailante Lengete was chosen as one of TIME 100 most influential people.

To watch how a community is giving a positive modern spin on a centuries-old tradition is truly inspirational. These photos pay homage to what collaboration, dialogue, education, resilience and respect can accomplish.

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  • Pongezi, alternative rites of passage for Maasai girls
    Kenya, Woman without the knife
    These Maasai girls are celebrating an alternative rite of passage which replaces traditional circumcision with education for Maasai girls in Kenya.
    The girls learn new ceremonial songs and dances and combine that with wearing traditional clothes and jewelry.

  • Pongezi, alternative rites of passage for Maasai girls, Woman without the knife,
    Kenya, Loita, Emily (13) is wearing blue is a festive sign that she's going to do the rites of passage, but in her case it will be without the circumcision. Blue is a sign of pure, peace and festive

  • Pongezi, alternative rites of passage for Maasai girls, Woman without the knife,
    Kenya, Traditional healer, one who is opposed to alternatives rites and holds on to tradition

  • Pongezi, alternative rites of passage for Maasai girls, Woman without the knife,
    Kenya, The extra classes the girls get are met with great enthusiasm

  • Pongezi, alternative rites of passage for Maasai girls, Woman without the knife,
    Kenya, Shompole, Instead of circumcision the girls get extra education. This is the last instruction and motivation right before the start of the new ceremony.

  • Pongezi, alternative rites of passage for Maasai girls, Woman without the knife,
    Kenya, Magadi, Circumcision is replaced by education. Girls learn f.i. about the female body, woman's rights, empowerment. The only available chalkboard is the one from the mathematics department

  • Pongezi, alternative rites of passage for Maasai girls, Woman without the knife,
    Kenya, "Welcome everybody in our house in the name of the Lord"

  • Pongezi, alternative rites of passage for Maasai girls, Woman without the knife,
    Kenya, Entasekera
    Most of the traditional rituals that are harmless are kept like this symbolic one: The girls hair is shaved off so that the women's hair can grow back

  • Pongezi, alternative rites of passage for Maasai girls, Woman without the knife,
    Kenya, Woman without the knife
    Maasai girl Setou with her mother inside their house to receive life lessons. She is celebrating an alternative rite of passage which replaces traditional circumcision with education for Maasai girls in Kenya.
    Her head is festive red painted after her hair is shaved off. It is part of the tradition to shave off the girls hair so the woman’s hair can grow back.

  • Pongezi, alternative rites of passage for Maasai girls, Woman without the knife,
    Kenya, Loitokitok, Alternative rite of passage for Maasai girls, no more circumsicion but girl education.De girl candlelight ceremonie, (A new song is sung, Put out the fire of girl circumcision, Light the fire of girl education

  • Pongezi, alternative rites of passage for Maasai girls, Woman without the knife,
    Kenya, Magadi, girls parade through the village, excited about being a woman. Also to make a statement to the other villagers against the cut

  • Pongezi, alternative rites of passage for Maasai girls, Woman without the knife,
    Kenya, Loita and Magadi, Kenia. Woman dance to celebrate with the girls who are now woman

  • Pongezi, alternative rites of passage for Maasai girls, Woman without the knife,
    Kenya, Loita, Also the warriors, the morans, come to celebrate which means that they accept the not- circumcised girl as a woman in their community and full woman to marry at a later time.

  • Pongezi, alternative rites of passage for Maasai girls, Woman without the knife,
    Kenya, Loita, Also the warriors, the morans, come to celebrate which means that they accept the not- circumcised girl as a woman in their community and full woman to marry at a later time.


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