The Imbalu is the only yard stick among the Bamasaba where a Bamasaba boy can become a man and it happens every even year, it was introduced by a woman called Nabarwa who is believed to have come beyond Mt Elgon in Pokot a circumcising community from Kenya. At the age of 18 years the Bamasaba boy approaches his father and asks him for the permission to be circumcised that year, when he allows him the rituals of the Imbalu start. The candidate puts on a traditional attire to dance (Ensogi). Every evening they have specified places where they go with other candidates to practice the dance. The Ensongi dance is the opening ceremony of the Imbalu rituals, it starts from January to June (eating, drinking and dancing is all they do).
In July the candidate starts to visit the relatives telling them about how he is going to become a man that year, they give him presents and gifts which help his father in Imbalu festive preparations. If the visits are over the candidate is given millet to beat which was harvested the previous year with help of sisters and aunties which will be used for circumcision time (Imbalu festive).After that the candidate is give a pot to fetch water from a big River on this bear head by this they are training him to be patient and perseverance.
3 days to Imbalu, The candidate is supposed to brew alcohol (maina) which is taken by only old people who have grey hair, who have seen life and do not fear circumcision since they have also passed through this experience. After that the candidate is smeared with millet the whole body to keep his body temperature cold and this also connects him to his ancestors since millet is the staple food of the Bamasaba
A day before each candidate receives a knife from the circumcisers (Bashebi) which he chooses by himself, they will use to cut him the following day, and then they sharpen it more after they give it to him to keep it. It is believed that the circumcisers are possessed by spirits.
During the last days of circumcision(Imbalu) the candidate is guarded seriously on everything he does , On the Imbalu day only the trusted members of the clan are allowed to enter into the ring where circumcision is done. The candidate is supposed to stand still and ready to overcome the pains during the circumcision process. So that not to shame himself, father and clan at large.
Ineemba is the closing ceremony of the Imbalu rituals which is performed after months in the old year normally known as Girl year that takes three days (day and night) with a lot of eating and dancing when the initiates have recovered well, Ineemba directly connected with reproduction since it was named after a long drum called Ineemba which is made from a monitor lizard which has produced. So during this dance the Initiates are supposed to pick girls of their choice and marry them there and then.
Finally the circumciser gives the Initiate the “commandments of the Bamasaba” by starting to wash hands with locally brewed alcohol while he drinks it to use them since he has been using sticks to eat, he also gives him valuables (Knife, Pang, Fire stick, Horn) and a book and pen.
The birth of baby boy brings happiness to the family.
They sing Japadhola,Samyia and Iteso songs which describe him/them.
They circumcise the dead body in case he dies when he is twenty years and above since they do not burry un- circumcised bodies on their land.
A Bamasaba girl used to convince her boy friend if he is not a Bamasaba to get circumcised before they get married to keep the trend of Nabarwa but these days things have changed.
Taboos during the Imbalu Rituals
An un- circumcised man is not supposed to sleep with a girl.
Candidates are not supposed to fall while dancing.
Candidates are not supposed to step in water.