Reintegration

By Allen F. Roberts
University of California, Los Angeles (formerly University of Iowa)

Kenya; Pokot peoples

Mudpack wig

Human hair, earth, clay, metal

W. 22.86 cm (9")

The University of Iowa Museum of Art, Anonymous gift in honor of Betty Stanley, 1986.92

Another achievement of boys' initiation is solidarity. If they are teased and tormented, especially at the beginning of initiation, it is so that boys will develop moral fortitude and a strong identification with others who have undergone the same rituals. In the old days, this was a prized quality when community defense was at stake, or when raiding parties were organized to seek revenge or wreak havoc on adversaries. Among some pastoralist peoples of the southern Sudan and eastern Africa, among whom cattle was the source of family wealth and pride, cattle rustling was a test of a young man's pluck. Adding cattle to one’s father’s herd was an end in itself, but an equal goal was to prove oneself in the face of great risk. Young men of several northern Kenyan and Ugandan groups who had been initiated together might undertake such a raid (see Kasfir 2007). Achievement and status were publicized by decorating detachable mudpack hairdos like this one (Verswijver 2010).