President Kenyatta will be hosted by his Uganda counterpart, President Yoweri Museveni and the two will grace the Imbalu ceremony, a ritual of circumcision among the Bamasaba (Bagisu) society which is rooted in a revered culture that relishes the rite of passage to manhood.
Already preparations are in high gear at Mutoto Cultural Grounds in Mbale town.
“The two heads of state will attend the ceremony. This makes it unique from the previous ceremonies but just like I have emphasised preparations are in high gear and all is set,” Mr Mathias Nabutele, the co-ordinator of the celebrations told Uganda’s Daily Monitor on Monday and confirming the attendance of the two heads of state.
Circumcision, known as Imbalu among the Bamasaba, is an age-old tradition, which defines and unites the people in Bugisu region. The region comprises Mbale, Manafwa, Bulambuli, Sironko and Bududa districts.
According to Mr Nabutele, President Kenyatta will for the first time lead the Bamasaba from Kenya, (Bungoma, Trans-Nzoia and Bukusu) to Mutoto, a sacred place where the first Mumasaba (Mugisu) was reportedly circumcised.
Mr Moses Kutoyi, the chairperson of Imbalu organising committee said the institution will use the event to commission a multi-cultural centre; which will, among other things, house a cultural village, a zoo and recreational centre.
Imbalu is a symbol of pride among the Bamasaba and twelve candidates will be blessed by the cultural leader of Inzu Ya Masaaba, Mr Bob Mushikori and later be circumcised, according to the chairperson.
“Uncircumcised men have no place in our culture and its total shame to manhood if you never faced a knife to you call yourself, a Mumasaba,” Mr Kutoyi, said.
In 2016, the Bamasaba Cultural Institution in partnership with Uganda Tourism Board unveiled a plan to upgrade Mutoto Cultural Site to boost tourism.
The board later announced that the circumcision fete had been elevated to a carnival and added to Uganda’s tourism products.