Kezzeme festival videos

The Kezzeme festival takes place at the end of the dry season each year (March), as part of a coming-of-age ritual for youths aged around thirteen. The Orisino divsion of the Acipu climb up Korisino (Karishen) mountain for a beating festival. In the late afternoon the youths approach a line of younger boys holding spiked raffia palm branches. The older boys offer their backs to be beaten and the younger ones bring down the sticks as hard as they can. The beating part of the festival takes place about an hour before sunset, and ends with the arrival of Garkuwa, the war chief.

The commentaries below were provided by Markus Yabani. Mohammed Mallam has also provided an alternative commentary.

Scenes from the beating


Showing off afterwards!


Veterans' war dances

Ɗanjuma Galadima, Damina Jayi and Mogobiri Katintun

Musicians playing after the festival


Full version

42 mins Subtitles

A test of manhood

The festival is a metaphor for battle, and after the beating the people ascend the mountain towards Kadaada (the King's palace) and perform war dances, mock combat acted out by various pairs of elders in turn.

Older youths and even men up to about the age of 35 may choose to join the Kezzeme to be beaten, seemingly as a proof of their virility. The 'beaters', however, are always boys who have not yet experienced the Kezzeme, and the transition from beater to beaten is an important part of becoming a man. Before entering the field participants smear themselves with plants held to have powerful medicinal properties. Serious injury or death seems to be relatively rare.