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Initiation is a process of culture transmission and community survival. It is always a collective responsibility. Nearly all African cultural groups mark major points of transition throughout the life cycle by rituals and ceremonies related to birth, end of childhood and beginning of adult life, marriage, eldership, and death. Generally, African cosmogonies view the human life span as a journey along a spiraling cycle in which the individual exists in the spirit world before birth, is embodied and born into the physical world, and, at death, the disembodied spirit returns to the spirit world to be reborn in physical form.

By the time children in African societies reach adolescence, they know their place within the social fabric of their communities and have learned important aspects of ...

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