MY SON’S RITE OF PASSAGE


Minor protest in front of Washington Conventio...

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I called my son to find out if he is ready to go back to school.  Well, he is, but not in the same school.  School’s opening is tomorrow and I just found out he is going to another private school.
His new school is much more expensive and I cannot afford it. 
His mother knows that I am broke now but she does not give a hoot. 

It reminds me when my son called telling me that he can fight lions.  Puzzled I asked him “which lions?”
“I have been circumcised, so I am man now”. 
“How do you feel?”
“It does not hurt so much anymore”

Then the mother calls me and …
“You know our son…”  I stopped her short.
“If he was really OUR son, you would ask my advice about having him circumcised.”
“Well, you know, it is better for his health and medical reports recommend it for AID prevention.”
“I agree, but he is only ten years old.”
In my head, I trust my kid and I don’t think he is shagging anyone now.  
“Anyway, I will let M. (her boyfriend) call you so you can hear a different point of view”

M. calls me.  So without giving him time to breathe, I ask.
“What was the circumcision for?”
“Circumcision is our ritual and we thought it was in his best interest”
“Ok but why didn’t you ask my approval?
I have a “I don’t know what to say” silence on the other side of the line.  In African’s culture it is of bad taste to challenge someone, the only way to do it is in metaphors and I am not good at that.
“Ok! Let’s meet tomorrow at 10am.”
“OK”. He faintly replies

I am still waiting for M. Soon it will make a year I have waited. Maybe he is too busy taking care of his wife and all the other kids he has on the side.  Yes, the boyfriend is married and he I am sure he wants to give me some sound advice.

Since then I have seen my son only once.  When I gave him some gift brought by my brother. The process took 5 minutes.

The circumcision act was top for me. Plus, I got tired of her misplaced insult, “he is not ready, take him tomorrow”, ” he is coming along with me to see my friends” and the threat if I don’t do this or that her way.

I do not think that circumcision is a major crime. My tenet is simple, unless it is for religious or medical reasons, I do not believe in body part removal under any circumstances.
My son, upon reaching legal age, could have done it on his own free will.
I forgot, she said that it was cleaner.  I am glad they don’t cut off ears for rituals.  Ears do get dirty you know!

All the women, including her, were circumcised in her family; I would believe that with all that has been written about female circumcision she would think twice about it.  Well, it is not the case.

Why I do not do anything, like taking my son away.
Simple, I am a foreigner in Africa and my wife boy friend comes from a very rich family. 
In Africa you don’t mess around with rich African folks.  Unless you have the money to match it, be stupid and keep quiet.   
I do want any unfortunate incidents to eye me.

I no longer make any decision about my son and I still cannot fathom African rituals and ethic.  We are from a different culture and it seems that no middle ground exists.

My son’s mother yelled at my mother, when she came to visit upon his birth, calling her a bitch. The rest of my familyis scare is scared of her.  The parents of my son’s mother are all dead. So no mediation is foreseen.  We are from different planet and I am tired of arguing.

Patrick-Bernard

See related post “My son’s rite of passage – Part II

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