Bulls, blood and the test of manhood in Kenya’s Baringo County

Far from the bustling city of Nairobi, in an isolated corner of Kenya’s Rift Valley, young men from the Pokot community spear a bull in a ceremony called Sapana that takes them into adulthood. Following the ritual improves men’s marriage prospects, provided they can amass a dowry of livestock for their bride. Initiates can also take part in local decision-making in a region where tradition remains strong and cattle play a central part in daily life. Text and photos by Siegfried Modola


 

Pokot men carry a part of a carcass of a bull killed by a young man during an initiation ceremony in Baringo County, Kenya, January 20, 2016. Far from the bustling city of Nairobi, in an isolated corner of Kenya's Rift Valley, young men from the Pokot community spear a bull in a ceremony called Sapana that takes them into adulthood. Following the ritual improves men's marriage prospects, provided they can amass a dowry of livestock for their bride. Initiates can also take part in local decision-making in a region where tradition remains strong and cattle play a central part in daily life. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola PICTURE 22 OF 24 - SEARCH "POKOT" FOR ALL IMAGES TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Pokot men carry a part of a carcass of a bull killed by a young man during an initiation ceremony in Baringo County
Young Pokot men restrain a bull as they extract blood from its neck, during an initiation ceremony of young men in Baringo County, Kenya, January 20, 2016. Far from the bustling city of Nairobi, in an isolated corner of Kenya's Rift Valley, young men from the Pokot community spear a bull in a ceremony called Sapana that takes them into adulthood. Following the ritual improves men's marriage prospects, provided they can amass a dowry of livestock for their bride. Initiates can also take part in local decision-making in a region where tradition remains strong and cattle play a central part in daily life. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola PICTURE 13 OF 24 - SEARCH "POKOT" FOR ALL IMAGES
Young Pokot men restrain a bull as they extract blood from its neck, during an initiation ceremony
A young Pokot man is smeared with the contents of a bull's stomach by an elder during an initiation ceremony in Baringo County, Kenya, January 20, 2016. Far from the bustling city of Nairobi, in an isolated corner of Kenya's Rift Valley, young men from the Pokot community spear a bull in a ceremony called Sapana that takes them into adulthood. Following the ritual improves men's marriage prospects, provided they can amass a dowry of livestock for their bride. Initiates can also take part in local decision-making in a region where tradition remains strong and cattle play a central part in daily life. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola PICTURE 20 OF 24 - SEARCH "POKOT" FOR ALL IMAGES TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY TEMPLATE OUT
A young Pokot man is smeared with the contents of a bull’s stomach by an elder during an initiation ceremony

Pokot men surround the carcass of a bull speared by a young man during an initiation ceremony in Baringo County, Kenya, January 20, 2016. Far from the bustling city of Nairobi, in an isolated corner of Kenya's Rift Valley, young men from the Pokot community spear a bull in a ceremony called Sapana that takes them into adulthood. Following the ritual improves men's marriage prospects, provided they can amass a dowry of livestock for their bride. Initiates can also take part in local decision-making in a region where tradition remains strong and cattle play a central part in daily life. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola PICTURE 17 OF 24 - SEARCH "POKOT" FOR ALL IMAGES

Two men fight over a dispute during an initiation ceremony for young men in Baringo County, Kenya, January 20, 2016. Far from the bustling city of Nairobi, in an isolated corner of Kenya's Rift Valley, young men from the Pokot community spear a bull in a ceremony called Sapana that takes them into adulthood. Following the ritual improves men's marriage prospects, provided they can amass a dowry of livestock for their bride. Initiates can also take part in local decision-making in a region where tradition remains strong and cattle play a central part in daily life. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola PICTURE 15 OF 24 - SEARCH "POKOT" FOR ALL IMAGES TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Two men fight over a dispute during the initiation ceremony
Young Pokot men restrain a bull as they prepare to extract blood from its neck with an arrow, during an initiation ceremony of young men in Baringo County, Kenya, January 20, 2016. Far from the bustling city of Nairobi, in an isolated corner of Kenya's Rift Valley, young men from the Pokot community spear a bull in a ceremony called Sapana that takes them into adulthood. Following the ritual improves men's marriage prospects, provided they can amass a dowry of livestock for their bride. Initiates can also take part in local decision-making in a region where tradition remains strong and cattle play a central part in daily life. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola PICTURE 9 OF 24 - SEARCH "POKOT" FOR ALL IMAGES
Young Pokot men restrain a bull as they prepare to extract blood from its neck with an arrow
Pokot men sit by a fire inside a hut as they celebrate the night before an initiation ceremony for young men in Baringo County, Kenya, January 19, 2016. Far from the bustling city of Nairobi, in an isolated corner of Kenya's Rift Valley, young men from the Pokot community spear a bull in a ceremony called Sapana that takes them into adulthood. Following the ritual improves men's marriage prospects, provided they can amass a dowry of livestock for their bride. Initiates can also take part in local decision-making in a region where tradition remains strong and cattle play a central part in daily life. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola PICTURE 6 OF 24 - SEARCH "POKOT" FOR ALL IMAGES
Pokot men sit by a fire inside a hut as they celebrate the night before the initiation ceremony
A Pokot man cuts a cow horn that will be used to store an anointment for ceremonies, the day before an initiation ceremony in Baringo County, Kenya, January 19, 2016. Far from the bustling city of Nairobi, in an isolated corner of Kenya's Rift Valley, young men from the Pokot community spear a bull in a ceremony called Sapana that takes them into adulthood. Following the ritual improves men's marriage prospects, provided they can amass a dowry of livestock for their bride. Initiates can also take part in local decision-making in a region where tradition remains strong and cattle play a central part in daily life. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola PICTURE 3 OF 24 - SEARCH "POKOT" FOR ALL IMAGES
A Pokot man cuts a cow horn that will be used to store an anointment for ceremonies, the day before the initiation ceremony
A Pokot man carries a part of bull carcass, which was killed by a young man during an initiation ceremony in Baringo County, Kenya, January 20, 2016. Far from the bustling city of Nairobi, in an isolated corner of Kenya's Rift Valley, young men from the Pokot community spear a bull in a ceremony called Sapana that takes them into adulthood. Following the ritual improves men's marriage prospects, provided they can amass a dowry of livestock for their bride. Initiates can also take part in local decision-making in a region where tradition remains strong and cattle play a central part in daily life. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola PICTURE 23 OF 24 - SEARCH "POKOT" FOR ALL IMAGES
A Pokot man carries a part of bull carcass, which was killed by a young man during an initiation ceremony
Young Pokot men collect blood pouring out the neck of a bull, during an initiation ceremony for young men in Baringo County, Kenya, January 20, 2016. Far from the bustling city of Nairobi, in an isolated corner of Kenya's Rift Valley, young men from the Pokot community spear a bull in a ceremony called Sapana that takes them into adulthood. Following the ritual improves men's marriage prospects, provided they can amass a dowry of livestock for their bride. Initiates can also take part in local decision-making in a region where tradition remains strong and cattle play a central part in daily life. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola PICTURE 12 OF 24 - SEARCH "POKOT" FOR ALL IMAGES
Young Pokot men collect blood pouring out the neck of a bull
A Pokot man spears a bull during an initiation ceremony in Baringo County, Kenya, January 20, 2016. Far from the bustling city of Nairobi, in an isolated corner of Kenya's Rift Valley, young men from the Pokot community spear a bull in a ceremony called Sapana that takes them into adulthood. Following the ritual improves men's marriage prospects, provided they can amass a dowry of livestock for their bride. Initiates can also take part in local decision-making in a region where tradition remains strong and cattle play a central part in daily life. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola PICTURE 10 OF 24 - SEARCH "POKOT" FOR ALL IMAGES
A Pokot man spears a bull during the initiation ceremony in Baringo County

Young Pokot men restrain a bull as another prepares to shoot an arrow with a shallow point into its neck to extract blood, during an initiation ceremony in Baringo County, Kenya, January 20, 2016. Far from the bustling city of Nairobi, in an isolated corner of Kenya's Rift Valley, young men from the Pokot community spear a bull in a ceremony called Sapana that takes them into adulthood. Following the ritual improves men's marriage prospects, provided they can amass a dowry of livestock for their bride. Initiates can also take part in local decision-making in a region where tradition remains strong and cattle play a central part in daily life. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola PICTURE 11 OF 24 - SEARCH "POKOT" FOR ALL IMAGES

A boy climbs on the back of a cow near his home the day before an initiation ceremony for young men in Baringo County, Kenya, January 19, 2016. Far from the bustling city of Nairobi, in an isolated corner of Kenya's Rift Valley, young men from the Pokot community spear a bull in a ceremony called Sapana that takes them into adulthood. Following the ritual improves men's marriage prospects, provided they can amass a dowry of livestock for their bride. Initiates can also take part in local decision-making in a region where tradition remains strong and cattle play a central part in daily life. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola PICTURE 4 OF 24 - SEARCH "POKOT" FOR ALL IMAGES
A boy climbs on the back of a cow near his home the day before an initiation ceremony for young men in Baringo County
A man sits on top of a hill at dusk as he searches for network on his mobile phone the day before an initiation ceremony for young men in Baringo County, Kenya, January 19, 2016. Far from the bustling city of Nairobi, in an isolated corner of Kenya's Rift Valley, young men from the Pokot community spear a bull in a ceremony called Sapana that takes them into adulthood. Following the ritual improves men's marriage prospects, provided they can amass a dowry of livestock for their bride. Initiates can also take part in local decision-making in a region where tradition remains strong and cattle play a central part in daily life. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola PICTURE 5 OF 24 - SEARCH "POKOT" FOR ALL IMAGES
A man sits on top of a hill at dusk as he searches for network on his mobile phone the day before the initiation ceremony for young men
Pokot women dance in celebration the day before an initiation ceremony for young men in Baringo County, Kenya, January 19, 2016. Far from the bustling city of Nairobi, in an isolated corner of Kenya's Rift Valley, young men from the Pokot community spear a bull in a ceremony called Sapana that takes them into adulthood. Following the ritual improves men's marriage prospects, provided they can amass a dowry of livestock for their bride. Initiates can also take part in local decision-making in a region where tradition remains strong and cattle play a central part in daily life. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola PICTURE 2 OF 24 - SEARCH "POKOT" FOR ALL IMAGES
Pokot women dance in celebration the day before the initiation ceremony for young men in Baringo County