The Akamba people of Kenya are a Bantu ethnic tribe found in the Eastern Province of Kenya, between the cities of Nairobi, Tsavo and Embu. They practice many trades, including cattle herding, farming and trade with other nearby tribes. The Akamba people are well known for their wood carving and pottery. In Akamba culture, the family is central to the life of the community.
The rites of birth and childhood introduce the child to the corporate community. Without being initiated, a person is not a full member of the Akamba people. After initiation, the child grows out of childhood and enters into adulthood physically, socially and religiously. The initiation of the young is one of the most significant moments in individual life. What ever happens to the child, happens to the parents, relatives, community and the living dead.
The youth are formally introduced to communal living; they are withdrawn from all other people and live alone in the forests away from the villages. The youth go through a period of withdrawal from society. This is a symbolic experience about “dying, living in the spirit world and being reborn.” The young have new personalities, have lost their childhoods and sometimes receive new names. Initiates are also introduced to adult life. The receive full responsibility by gaining new rights and new obligations. They are also introduced to the life of the living dead. The initiation rites prepare the young about sexual life, marriage and family responsibilities. Initiation marks the beginning of gaining knowledge, learning to tolerate hardships and living with one another.
Initiation rites take place during puberty and there are three parts to the Akamba initiation rites. Around the ages of four to seven, children go through the first stage of initiation rites. Boys undergo circumcision and girls undergo clitoidetomy. After, there is public rejoicing, dancing, singing, drinking beer and making food offerings.