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BBC TwoThis World


Last Updated: Monday, 21 February 2005, 15:58 GMT
Kamoti: Uganda

Each year, thousands of boys from all over Uganda make their way to an ancient holy site to be circumcised in a public demonstration of their strength, courage and maturity.

Kamoti's circumcision will take place without anaesthetic

Sixteen-year-old Kamoti John has decided it is time for him to become a man.

In the few days leading up to the ceremony itself, Kamoti spends his time running through the hills and dancing.

Just before the circumcision, he is smeared with millet to ward off bad spirits and as a mark of respect to his ancestors.

The test for Kamoti then is to withstand the pain without flinching. If he flinches, he will dishonour his family and the ceremony will be called off.

By tradition, boys should embark on their first sexual experience six weeks after their cicumcision, once their wounds have healed.

But in modern Uganda, the threat of Aids and the rise of evangelical religion means that some young people are re-evaluating their views on sex and tradition.

Coming of Age was broadcast in the UK on Tuesday, 22nd February, 2005 at 2100 GMT on BBC Two.

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