The Imbalu cultural practice among Bagishu community is an event conducted only during an even year and it attracts over 50,000 people in Mbale city.
This year, the event is scheduled to start in August until December 31st .
Imbalu has always been practiced as a traditional ceremony but over the years, it has evolved into one of the country’s tourist attraction.
It has always boosted businesses around Mbale and the cultural sites in the region.
The ceremony is flagged of from Mutoto Cultural grounds outside Mbale city every August of the even years among the Gishu male child between the ages 0f 13- 20 that takes place every even year.
During this exercise, Kadodi, a prominent Bagishu cultural dance usually dominates the day’s activity during the Imbalu ceremony.
It is a very serious culture requirement that one cannot forfeit even if he wanted to and dodging is considered cowardly and you are not allowed to sit among the adults and discuss any important ideas pertaining culture and family.
“Every male child in Bagishu has to be circumcised to be considered a man among the society once you skipped this exercise, and hide, the community can hunt for you and until you are circumcised and even if you die when uncircumcised, the tradition dictates that you must be circumcised before burial,” Jackson Mafabi said.
During the preparations; family, relatives, neighbors, friends, well-wishers come together after the boy declares his interest to become a man.
This normally lasts for five days of dancing, singing, goats’ meat berbeque, dressing in ceremonial clothes, smearing with millet paste, drinking, visiting relatives for blessings and gifts are given like cows, goats, and money to help the candidate through the healing process.
The skill is performed by a local surgeon who is picked specifically by the spirits as it is believed.
On the final day, the ceremony’s climax is felt when the local surgeon armed with a knife of steel curved in a special way lies in ambush in the waiting crowd waiting for the young man’s arrival from his last visit to the maternal side.
Culture demands that the last visit should be made at the mother’s side.
The young man arrives with zeal and determination from the maternal side, using a rear route prepared for him, away from the usual one to evade bad spirits and evil from some bad elements who might be in the crowd.
He is led by his father or elder brothers or uncles to the center of the compound where a sack of soil had been prepared for the occasion, so that the blood from the cut part does not spill everywhere.
The surgeon appears secretly from the crowd steps up on the final day and slices off the fore skin and inner skin in a very artistic way that only those keen enough can notice that art.
After that exercise the surgeon blows the whistle and the paternal aunt runs out with a special drink on a mingling stick which is given to the boy, so that he does not collapse in case he had ever involved himself in sexual acts and gotten a woman pregnant or a child.