The Sharo (Shadi) Flogging Festival Of The Fulanis
Africa is blessed when it comes to diversity in culture, religion, historic sites, tradition and festivals.
One of the festivals worthy of recognition is the Sharo flogging festival. It's a common cultural tradition among the Fulani tribe in the West African region of Africa.
Sharo, a Fulani word also called Shadi which means flogging.
The essence of the festival is to test the bravery and endurance of boys passing into manhood, it's a test of manliness and young manhood, a rites of passage for young adolescents.
This festival usually holds twice in a year, the first time is usually during the dry season which coincides with the harvest of guinea corn and the second time is held during the Muslim festival of Id-el-Kabir.
This festival enables young men to marry up to four wives after they've passed the test, it's usually a long week festival attended by important dignitaries within and outside the Fulani tribe, it's one of the pride of the tribe.
The venue is usually in a public space. The festival is accompanied by a lot of activities such as maiden dancing, tricksters and many more, but the hallmark of the festival is the flogging.
How is it done?
Young, unmarried, strong and bare chested men, followed by beautiful young maidens go into the center of the crowd amidsts cheers from their families and supporters.
This is usually preceded by long weeks of preparation for the young men, which includes heavy trainings to build endurance and spiritual fortification in order to reduce or not feel the pain during flogging.
The families of the young men are not left out, they support their men in every little they can, because defeat is tantamount to the disgrace of the family.
It's truly an endurance process as it usually leaves heavy scars on the proud contenders, and after the flogging, the young men can now proceed to marry the beautiful maidens of their choice, as much as four, so far the young man in question can manage them all.
And in some occasions, when there is a contention over a lady, to avoid unnecessary disputes, the men involved will challenge themselves to Sharo, and the winner is determined by the ability of the contender to endure the pain. During the flogging, the young men in the competition are expected to sing and dance along the music to show happpiness in order to mock their fellow contender.
During the flogging, a referee is provided to overseee the floggings in order to prevent excessive injuries such as blindness, it's at the command of the referee that the challenger lands the cane on the contender's back who's expected to be dancing and singing to show that he's not affected.
Such is life among the Fulanis, if you truly want to show that you're a man, you know which competition to participate in, that's the Sharo flogging festival.
See you next time.