Imbalu Festival is believed to be the second largest festival in the world – after Brazil Sambo Festival. The event takes place in August every even year at Mutoto Cultural Grounds. It permeates through families of over seven million people in Masaabaland.
Imbalu or traditional circumcision derived its name from the “big knife” – smaller these days – that was used by bashebi (traditional circumcisers) to shape boys to manhood.
The word “Imbalu” is used to explain the excruciating pain one feels during the peeling. The pain is indeed heavy, deafening and killing. The pain is undoubtedly and unimaginably beyond description. You can only describe it by feeling it.
Imbalu signifies the right of passage from boyhood to manhood, marriage, parenthood, elderhood and finally ancestorhood. Having accomplished this public requirement which leaves an indelible physical mark, the new man is now fit to be trusted with the secrets and burdens of the community.
Imbalu begins and ends with dance; the entire season is a festival characterized by music and dance. The candidates wear thigh bells and jingles, while others carry hand bells, as their main instruments of producing music…the story continues
A Day at Mutoto, Venue for Imbalu Festival
Imbalu Dances – Kadodi, Isonja, Tsinyimba…
The Craze at Imbalu Festival – People, Singing, Dancing
Witnessing Candidates as they brave the knife live.