Gender over the Life Cycle

Females come of age with a public ceremony marking the first menses. Afterwards, for a month or two, an adolescent girl is naramtaakwa, or "decorated woman," and wears particular shell ornaments, follows certain taboos, and refrains from work activities. Afterwards she is considered to be a woman (taakwa) and eligible for marriage. Males come of age more gradually in a series of elaborate initiation ceremonies that typically begin when they are only a few years old and end in their twenties. However, only in their forties, when they have acted as initiators of other males in another ritual cycle, are they considered truly mature men. Consonant with the gradual nature of the male maturation process, there is no clearly marked period of male adolescence. Males who have passed through various stages of the initiation process are entitled to wear particular ornaments and carry string bags adorned with decorations distinctive of their initiation grades. There are specific names for males who have completed each initiation stage. Generically, men are called ndu; young, unmarried men are called kwinembendu and recently married young men are nembikarandu.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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