Bedik Initiation to Learn the "Secrets of Life"
Notes from My Bedik Africa Journal:
Suddenly around a hut came five boys clad in ivory-colored loin cloths came running with their hands outstretched
at 45 degrees. Each held a thin stick in one hand and looked straightforward as if in meditation. One boy had his
eyes almost closed. Each wore a thin sandal only on one foot.
These five 12 and 13- year-old boys, their dark bodies glistening with sweat from the 100 F plus-degree heat,
ran in a single-file column. Occasionally they would stop at specific areas of the village, re-form into a straight line for
a few seconds, then resume running again in a single-file line. They ran like this from sunrise to sunset, with a
short break at lunch and perhaps other intermissions when I did not see them, weaving through the village like
a short column of ants around grass-roofed huts, broken clay pots, grazing cattle and the trunks of giant trees.
As part of their six month initiation into manhood, these Bedik boys run in a traditional way all day through their village of Iwol for one month. Then they spend another five months alone in the bush.
The Secrets of Life Initiation Explained
Iwol Village Griot or Historian explains the initiation (I forgot to write his name): "They will run like this for one month. Then spend another five months living in the bush by themselves. In the bush, wise men teach the boys how to live and care for one another. So initiation takes six months."
When asked why the initiation, the Griot thoughtfully hesitates, smiles, and with a twinkle in his eyes, casually says. “To learn the secrets of Life, of course.” Of course.
I asked if I was too old to sign up for the initiation.
Notes from my Bedik Africa Journal:
Shaman tell us that, were meaning to come to us fully unveiled, it would turn us into it; that is, it would kill us.
Malidoma Patrica Somé Of Water and the Spirit
Your legs will get heavy and tired. Then comes a moment of feeling the wings you've grown, lifting.
When will my wings lift me?
Bedik tribe, Iwol village, Senegal.