Exploring Rural Practice of Body Magnification. A North-South thematic Analysis of Female Traditional Practices

Scientific Essay, 2018

52 Pages



Key words: Africa Sub-Sahara-Above the Saharan Region-Inner Labia Elongation/ILE-Tradition-Sexual pleasure

1. Abstract

The Luba have a rich oral tradition that they used over centuries to show their magnitude describe their activities (Burton, W.P.1961).While the Luba are said to have a rich tradition there is ample and growing support for the claim that It is a taboo in Luba tradition for a male to speak on female sexuality and any other issue related to their sexuality. In fact in the Luba tradition sex is not discussed openly even among people of the same sex.

Even though that it is believed that the Luba have a rich oral traditional .Youngerpersons are never allowed to talk about sexuality or sex in the presence of theadults as it is considered as a taboo.It is from this belief of saying that to talkabout female circumcision is strictly kept as taboo that parents and teachersshould not talk about. This work is drawn from my thesis of Master in education titled as `` Traditional Practices and Girl Education in Rural Democratic Republic of Congo’

Lubadi, K.L., (2017:4), said that the insight of the study has an educational focus regarding traditional practices, rurality, gender and education of the youth. However, arguably it seem like girl child informal education has been a challenge for many African societies due to their patriarchal conotations.The fact that most African social economic stories were not written the ancestors but rather taught and written by most colonialists and strangers to the Africa culture. Seemingly, the data gathered in most pilot study and documentation on the African Kingdoms and Empires suggest that the homeland history and deeds have been distorted. This is not different in the Democratic Republic of Congo where the Baluba history and traditional practices distortion is still rife for this reason it would be important to state briefly about who are the Baluba/Luba.

1.1. Who are the Baluba then?

This study sought to explore how girls in rural Lubaland in DRC experience their traditional practices of body magnication.There is overwhelming evidence for the notion that most young Luba boys and girls acquire the circumcision/Female Inner Elongation and other practices through the oral traditions excreted by expert adults, family member or parents in the absence of religious confessions or the Church community in particular.

For example, dissensions have persisted between the Luba of Katanga who claim to be settled in the mainland and those who moved away from Katanga to the Kasai province. Belonging to a particular religion usually becomes the uniting force of each community, (Lubadi, 2017). Thus, aligning with the position of UNICEF (2012), Shapiro (2003) asserts that the support provided by the church in Congo in terms of health provision and education is a dominant role played by churches in communities. 60% of Congolese people are Roman Catholic and 20 % are Protestant, with 10% belonging to syncretism sects; and the last 10% observing traditional religions. In the course of attending their religions, they use of both official and maternal languages and culture plays a significant role in the Congolese people especially the youth in general and the girls in particular.

The DRC’s cultural and linguistic diversities have significant influence on girls andwomen’s education attainment. This is pertinent because Congolese and Lubachildren are not taught in their natural languages. The Democratic Republic of Congo’s background shows that with a population of over 62 million people, thereare more than 200 ethnic groups with as many languages, dialects and customs. Thecommonly spoken languages are French, Lingala, and Tshiluba (Shapiro, 2003).Therefore, contrary to what Shapiro (2003) said the Luba are not originally fromthe Kasai and they are not making the majority of population of the great Kasaiprovince. According to the royal legend of Bene Mwanza (origin of Mwanza, DRC);It has been said that, a tiny portion of Baluba was forced to immigrate toward thegreat Kasai.The reason being expelled from the Katanga to the Kasailand was uponthe misbehaving character of Ilung’a Kabedi toward his uncle Kalala Ilunga him, his mother Kabedi, the family and a group of slaves provided to him were expelled and told to settled wherever the new moon will appear for the third time.

Burton,Wm.P.(1961), in support opine that the small group of Baluba expelled in theactual Kabongo(in former Katanga province) territory in the heart of the Luba Empire went to settled at Sanga Lubanga near Kanyoka Bakaji under a big Baobabtree (actual land comprise between Kanyama-Kabongo and Luputa territories.

He (Burton added that afterward the group moved toward the actual former Occidental Kasai province and, there in 1968 they were again seen as person-nonaggrata and their house were burnt to ashes,However, those who ascapped to thistragedy went to settled near a river were by their sheep use to drink water.Theriver till today is called `Mbuji-Mayi’’ or the river’Sheep.Then thereafter Mbuji-Mayi gave birth to a village, a city and then a Province under the name of great Oriental Kasai.On passage and the arrival in the new lands, they passed through theland inhabited by the O’ tetela,Songe,Kabinda,Bindji,Lualua,Kete they called ba’sangana means the autochthones people. In the present study, the issue underscrutiny is ``Exploring rural practice of body magnification, a North-Souththematic Analysis of Female Traditional Practices’’.This exploration of the ruralpractice of body magnification is compared and analysed in light of people’s culturalclosure, similarity or difference in practices or in social traditional culture. Theemphasis on the origin of the Luba is termed in light of the fact that the Lubahave a rich tradition of oral histories describing their activities over the followingcenturies (Mitchell 2006:64). On the logical grounds ,there is no compelling reasonto argue that the ILE /FILE practices in the regions inhabited by the Luba andthose people who have the biological and linguistic lignage cannot practice similartraditional practice with the Luba.Verhulpen Kansempe,(2005), speaks about the group of peole who form another import part of the Luba who are from numerousethnics he called the ``Baluba-ized’’ people .He (Verhulpen) started that the``Baluba-ized’’ people are such Zela,Lomotwa,Kunda,Heba,Tumbwe and Tabwa.Theyare also found in Kitwe and Ndola(Zambia) near the Kapita Baluba river says . Lunda WA Ngoyi, M. (2007).

1.2. Therefore, where are then the Luba?

According to (Mitchell, 2006, Kansempe, 2005, and Lubadi, 2017), the Luba locationis mainly found in the South-Eastern of the great Katanga province in the Republic Democratic of Congo and, they also live in small number in Zambia. Lunda wa Ngoyi,M.(2007),the Luba are inhabitants of the Katanga province in the DRC.They occupy entirely the territories of Kamina,Bukama,Malemba Nkulu,Manono,Kabongo,Kanyama the major part of Kabalo except the Mpaye region occupied by the Basonge people including the half part of the North territory ( namely the Baluba land).

In addition, the land occupied by the Luba is found in the chieftainship of Nganyein the Umpanga and Kamena group,in Nyunzu ( in South Lukuga sector), Kalemie (inthe chieftainship of Kasongo-Nyemba),Tumba ( in the group of Kinsukulu),Mitwaba ( in the chieftainship of Kyona Ngoyi),Lubudi (Mazangule,Mwana Mwadi,Mutobo,Mulombo,Mukwesha),Kasenga ( Bakunda,Lwapula Kambo Kabwena areas),Kafira ( sectors),Mpweto ( in the groupment of Mwero,Mukuku,Mwenge wa Ngalaba or Mutabi wa Bakunda,Kasongo Ka Mulumbi,Kyona Nzini),Kolwezi,Mutshatsha (found in the chieftainship of Kayembe Mukulu),Kipushi (found in the chieftainship of Kalwa). The Baluba entered also the Oriental Kasai province in the district of Kabinda (Lubangule),Baluba Shankadi) including Mwene Ditu (Bena Matamba).They speak the Kiluba language they inherited and speak Nkongolo Mwamba,Ilunga Mbidi Kiluwe and Kalala Ilunga’s language they call a language of future (Lunda wa Ngoyi, 2007). From this point of view, the Luba people occupy a vast land that they share with others Congolese people of Katanga out of 22, they occupy 11 territories. Thus, their occupation of the vast land inside and outside the DRC territory can prove that the Luba has both linguistic and traditional culture influence over the any Luba-ized group living outside the Katanga province as the Luba Empire and tribe’s motherland. For this reason it would be important that their language can be used in the media both nationally and internationally.

With regards to the traditional practices of body magnification, a female parentcan teach her young girl but, she cannot to do so to young boys. It is the uncle orthe grandfather who has the duty to teach sexuality or about sex to a young manor anything about his body. Making females look beautiful is one of Africa oldestpractices done to ensure that relationships with male partner’s last. Therefore, inlight of sexuality, sexual reproduction and body magnication parents of theopposite sex are not allowed to tell their children because it is shameful and ataboo, A woman can make her own body beautiful by either trimming or keeping longstraightened hair, earing, piercing, make up, manicure or pedicure. In othercountries, Female circumcision is also regarded as a symbol of beauty and womanhood even though that the World Health Organization and United Nations have declared it as an abuse of women`s rights. For the majority of rural Luba girls, in spite of the use of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), they fill glamour for using the Inner Labia Elongation (ILE).Even though in the Luba tradition, circumcision is mainly practiced only by males.

There seems to be no compelling reason to argue that regarding male’s circumcision, there are several different traditional practices depending on the region concerned. Circumcision and the Inner Labia Elongation traditional practices for the Religion and culture ‘sake are regarded important in some regions while in other regions circumcision practices seems to be regarded as taboo. There have been dissenters to the view among the Luba that an uncircumcised male is considered as little boy not matter the age would be. Evidently, according to the Luba oral tradition, an uncircumcised male was object to rejection in the group of young/adults persons of the same age. Thus, in order to exclude the uncircumcised elements a song was sang till today saying that:

`` Kya musutyi nkyenda nakyo kitutuluka ke kinunka (Kiluba lang.)’’ it means that:

I never walk along side an uncircumcised man cause as the sun arises he will spreadup a bad smell’ ’For this reason, it is seems that the majority of the Lubapopulations are circumcised at its earliest time before reaching 5-18 years old. Iam not alone in my view that both female inner labia elongation and the boyscircumcision performance entail often both the Luba traditions on the beauty,sexuality and reproduction, social responsibilities including moral behavior teaching.

The consensus view seems to validate that the African traditional rites performedduring initiation of young female/male include teaching on aspects of beauty tofemale are done rather in accordance of a particular culture or religion. In the Luba regions, the ILE practices tend to disappear dramatically in the urban areawere the circumcision of male tend to have an impact of almost 100 percent ofcircumcised males among the urban as well as within the rural population. Thereason why the later population has not decreased in number of circumcisedelements is just because male circumcision’s practices in DRC have been taught tothe majority of nurses including the majority of medical doctors.

The impact of female circumcision in the local communities is something thathasn’t been explored in depth. In many African communities FGM and ILE isobligatory as they are regarded as cultural or religious practice. On the basis ofthe evidence currently available, it seems fair to suggest that circumcision isperformed on both females and males are not practiced in every African country.Among the Luba people, circumcision practices is obligatory and enjoyed by themajority of the Luba population. Burton,(1961:61), a well renown Christianmissionary who lived among the Luba attest that the Luba people are not content inaccepting circumcision especially when it comes on the removal of the upper skin asit is practiced by Jews and European. He went on saying that their upper skin isentirely removed and the sore is left opened then rubbed with powdered redcapsicums and the young circumcised was sent to the circumcision camp ( namelycalled cu disao,Luba lang.) until later in the evening then later to be sent to theriver to cool the hound. Drawing this experiences either male or femalecircumcisions as well as the Inner Labia elongation in Africa and the rest of theworld has different ways of practice, calling and considerations. It is from the different considerations that the Female Genital Mutilation/FGM or the Clitoris cut seems to be practiced by some nations but not practiced in some regions of the same continent.

For this reason, it would be said that both females and males circumcision is ratherpracticed largely in the majority of African countries above the Sahara and Asia.According to UNICEF, UNFPA and the WHO (2016), there are 30 countriespracticing Female Genital mutilation in Africa and Asia. Some of practices havedifferences and similarities but by and large the intention is the same and theimpact on human development may either be negative or positive depending on whoone talks to.

The question is why the Female Genital Mutilation/FGM is and Female Inner Labia Elongation/FILE has been practiced for decades if it has been declared unsafe since 1948 by the majority of UN agencies?

Pilay, N. (2014), a United Nations Human Rights chief/UN puts forward the view that some uses the FGM practices as a way of controlling women sexual drive by excision of clitoris. This is prevalent mainly in Muslim African countries. Can this practices come to an end to be abolished?

It is for a good reason that the UNFPA-UNICEF, (2017) expressed the concerns that the FGM practice is widely practised in 29 African countries namely in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bisau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Serra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zambia.

For decades international organisations especially the World Health Organisation have put efforts to try to end Female Genital Mutilation as well as the Labial Elongation Practices in Africa. There however has been little progress in that regard in mainly Muslim cultures. The FGM as well as the ILE practices outline diverse social historical, cultural discourses and region. In light of cultural discourse, UNICEF (2016) avers that the Female Genital Cut (FGC) is often performed by old women in the villages who play also a greater role in influencing youth to undergo the traditional culture of circumcision.

The bottom line of the issue is that culture on the majority of Countries on the African continent is perceived to be patriarchal as it tends to perpetuate the dominance of men over women even when it comes to decisions about female bodies. In this discussion, I would like to make reference that in many regions where the patriarchal system is prevalent. For some reason in the Luba traditional culture it is only men who seem to be empowered to enforce decisions that perpetuate the male stranglehold on cultural issues.

Contrary to some countries especially the western countries were by women are equally empowered by both the law on a par as their males counterparts, Those countries seemed to be more developed than those countries were the patriarchal traditions and practices are still perpetuated through the family, the law and the social economic institutions. In regard to the prevalence of sexual and productive issues in the developing nations male traditional leaders have influence in laws and policies that dictates on girls/women’s rights for decades. Is this become a hindrance to women body’s freedom and economic opportunities?

In response to this question Beya, B.M. (1998:31), avers that women should begiven freedom and opportunity to use their bodies and lives as they feel.Thecurrent set up of social and economic structures enables unequal relationshipswomen and man. While the world and the African continent is striving to eradicatethe HIV/AIDS pandemic, traditional circumcisions can lead to the transmission ofdiseases to both males and female as local and rural medical practitioners continueto practice circumcision in diverse communities on the citizen without properfacilities. Governments and parents seem oblivious to ignore that femalecircumcision or the inner labia elongation may cause some psychological threats orbring up physical infections.

From the African point of view the African women beauty has been the mostadorable factor by the opposite sex. The debate centers not on the female beautyrather it focuses on her actions that are intended to please the opposite sex inusing traditional practices for sexual pleasure. In this study we look on how womensearching the beatification of the sexual body embody a good action but, it is alsoneeded to opine that the society as a whole should look at how it should be done inthe right ways that cannot affect the female’s health reproduction a better futuresocial construct.

Khau, (2012), opine that for women are thus faced with challenges to negotiate toacquire their spaces between the social construction, proper womanhood and thefemale sexualities while living in patriarchal pre-dominated society. In order to please the opposite sex sexually, the Africa woman uses the skills gained during initiation and Females Genital Mutilation performed on her during that time.

Therefore. Both the FGM/ FGC and ILE issues as an emergency issues which have been debated for decades but as a result it seems that on the long run of conferences in the many world class cities of the solution to put an end to the circumcision and the genital elongation issues still pending.

Despite the many conferences and debates on Female Genital Mutilation, little has been written on or openly debated on females practicing the inner labia-elongation as compared those who practice the Female Genital mutilation. Also, little has been heard or written on how governments in coalition with the international community can eradicate the mandatory FGM as it is an emotive cultural practice imposed on females by family and communities.

The females un/circumcised categorization goes from diverse symbolic body whichundergo through the inner labial elongation, the surface inscription, virginitytesting as well as the Female Genital Elongation/FGM or Female Genital Cut andstitching/FGCS.

In spite the Female Genital Elongation/FGM practiced among the Luba, the other practices such as the surface inscription, virginity testing as well as or Female Genital Cut and stitching/FGCS are said to unknown or not practiced for decades among the Luba females.


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Exploring Rural Practice of Body Magnification. A North-South thematic Analysis of Female Traditional Practices
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Kyungu Lubaba Lubadi (Author), 2018, Exploring Rural Practice of Body Magnification. A North-South thematic Analysis of Female Traditional Practices, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/430915


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