Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Shannon Jensen | Imbalu

Photo © Shannon Jensen-All Rights Reserved
Here's another compelling photo essay out of Africa, titled Imbalu and is by photographer Shannon Jensen.

The ritual of circumcision amongst the Bagisu tribe of Uganda is called Imbalu, and they believe that one's voyage to manhood begins with ithat ritual, with the whole community participating in it. This involves walking around the circumcision candidates' village, visiting religious sites to appease the gods, singing and dancing to folk songs that praise these gods.

The tribal elders say the origin of the practice is mysterious, even to them. But there are various conflicting legends associated with the necessity of males having to undergo the circumcision.

Circumcision seems to have been common practice in the Arabian peninsula in the 4th millennium BCE, while the earliest historical record of circumcision comes from Egypt, dating to about 2400–2300 BCE. Circumcision was done by the Ancient Egyptians possibly for hygienic reasons, but also was part of their obsession with purity. 

It is a prominent feature in the Hebrew Bible (possibly because of the Ancient Egyptians) with over 90% of Judaism adherents having the procedure performed as a religious obligation. Although not mentioned in the Qur'an, circumcision is considered essential to Islam, and is universally performed among Muslims.

Shannon Jensen is a documentary photographer based between East Africa and Washington DC. She has a B.S. in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. She attended the 2009 Eddie Adams Workshop and is currently featured on the Emerging Talent roster of Reportage by Getty Images. Her clients include The New York Times, Die Zeit, German GEO, Newsweek, Monocle, MSF, Oxfam and the National Geographic Society.