A group of men undergo the Asapan ceremony near to Kerio centre. This Asapan ceremony was much larger than has historically been the norm across Turkana, reflecting both its proximity to a larger population centre (Kerio) and a fundamental shift within the ceremony itself, which, in many contexts, has seen it change from a small-scale rite of passage undertaken in remote locations to a largescale political statement (indeed one of the initiates on this occasion was a local political aspirant). Having said all this, Asapan has always been politically consequential and in this respect, there is a sense of continuity to be apprehended here. Many of the initiates wear clothing and ornaments intended to reflect a close connection with urban settlements, perhaps most notably both reading glasses and sunglasses. All major elements of the ceremony are performed, but many objects that were more common in the past are not present, for example the atubwa wooden bowl, the apangach milk container and the akurum milk container.
Rights ownerSamuel Frederick Derbyshire
ParticipantsLosikiria Loyangol Amodanyan, Philimon Eyangan, Erukudu Ebongon, Mojong Lobwin, Joseph Ekiru, Simon Namwar, Alfred Ebongon, Robert Lopeyo Lochong, Alex Ekal Lobwin, Peter Ekiru Ebong, Joseph Etabo, David Ekitela, Epeyo Lobwin, Peter Kerio, Emmanuel Kerio, Peter Lokadon
Item/objectSpear (akwara), ebur oil container, sufuria aluminium pot, feathers
Social group settingPeers
TemporalityThis event comprises both change and continuity in equal measure, it is reflective of a social shift currently underway in Turkana, which has seen the significant growth of small peri-urban centres like Kerio, the emergence of new social and political aspirations and the establishment of new connections and networks stretching out across the rest of the region and indeed country. This Asapan ceremony is partly a statement, made by young men closely involved in many of these emerging possibilities, about their social standing and importance, and their connection to the rural power base harnessed by councils of elders (i.e. those overseeing the ceremony). This ceremony is not necessarily reflective of how Asapan is performed throughout Turkana in the present day, ceremonies undertaken in more rural/remote contexts tend to take on a very different character. The ceremony takes place from late morning to mid-afternoon, and afterwards initiates are led to their respective 'Asapan fathers'' homes, where they undergo a series of other rituals over a period of four days, before returning to their own homes.
Date of creation2021-02-05