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Maturing from a young child to an adult is a special time for women; coming of age marks the transition of growth into a newly developed woman ready to begin the chapters of life and adulthood. In celebration, many cultures host ceremonies in honor of this transition. Among the Gikuyu, a tribe located in central Kenya, irua is the ceremony marking the rite of passage from childhood to adulthood; the rite consists of the circumcision of both sexes with a ceremony of blessings and traditional dances and songs. The ceremony of irua is essential to the Gikuyu tribe as it symbolizes unity amongst the tribe, provides status of citizenship, marks the initiation into the tribal work force and administration, contains the history and legends of the Gikuyu people as the tribe has no written records and is “…whole teachings of tribal law, religion, and morality”. The cultural practice of clitoridectomy, female circumcision, within the Gikuyu tribe contributed to the cultural and national identity of Kenya.


Undergraduate Research Awards - 2020 Finalist, First-Year/Sophomore category