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Iwol village, Bedik Tribe
These 12 and 13-year-old Bedik boys ran around the village all day in this traditionally prescribed way. It was hot: perhaps 50 degrees C (120 degrees American). With the chief’s son usually in the lead, they ran from sunrise to sunset, with only a short break in the middle of the day.
Chief Jean Babtiste Keita explained that they would run like this for a month. After that, they would spend another five months alone in the bush. Chief Keita said the initiation was a chance to learn the “secrets of life.” It’s the Bedik initiation to become an adult.
At night I wrote in my journal: “A baby bird knows when it can fly. They stay on the branch until they know they can fly and then they fly. Inside they know this. These kids are on their first flight to manhood.
“Likewise, on this African trip, I am like a baby bird wanting to fly like a spiritual adult.”