Warrior Final Rite of Passage

This year the retiring Ilkorianga age group will undergo their final rite of passage and thereby become young elders. The Maasai “Laibon” is very much part of this event.image2

The Laibon is the Maasai witch doctor (He identifies cursed situations and finds remedies.). Many times finding solutions for problems involves identifying the person who cursed the person with the problem and the Laibon in turn curses the person that he has identified as causing the problem. In doing so he often brings significant suffering and pain to innocent people. He simply has to say that a particular man or woman is the cause of the problem and that person is marked for life as a witch.

The feast this year has to do with the retiring warriors eating meat provided by and in front of their wives. Warriors can only eat together with other warriors and especially never in front of a woman. After this ceremony called “Olesher”, the new young elders will be permitted to share food in their own homes with their families.image3

A big part of the preparations for the feast this year is getting the blessing of the Laibon. Part of the role of the Laibon in the feast is to curse the wives of the retiring warriors who have slept with men outside of the age group. If the women own up to their adventures, they can be forgiven otherwise they will die, at least that is the story. A number of the present group about to go through the ceremony tell me that when the age group above them did this rite of passage, over 600 of their wives hid their unfaithfulness and died. I am skeptical but this is what people say.

Some members of the age group are rebelling against this role of the Laibon, the Christian warriors and some others. They have been holding meetings here at Olbalbal to figure out what to do. The idea would be to have a “Christian Olesher” prescinding from any permission from, blessings by, or contributions to the Laibon. It is a huge question for the Ilkorianga and their fathers, their “firestick elders.” Age group rites of passage are deeply related to the participation of the Laibon. Many questions need to be answered.

image1Would a separate Christian Olesher rite make sense, would it be accepted by the Maasai community as “valid.”? Would the Christian warriors who participated be accepted by the Maasai as having genuinely completed their “Olesher.” Or would the Maasai consider such a Christian “Olesher meaningless. Would the Laibons curse the rebel members of the age group together with their fathers…so many questions.




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