Rites of Passage that Make Hazing Look like a Day at the Spa (part 2)

Fulani Whip Match

Ever see one of those Old West duels? Better yet, the classic sword duels between two European gentlemen? Well, generally speaking, it’s two grown men that partake in these displays of sheer ballsiness (sorry, ladies).

Because honestly, who the hell sword-fights in a dress?

And then there’s the Fulani people of Western Africa. To even be considered a man in this tribe, young boys of around 12 years old have to participate in a hardcore whip duel. You read that right: instead of a gun or a sword – because apparently, those don’t inflict nearly enough pain to be considered manly – the fighters use two sharpened sticks as whips.


Each fighter spends hours preparing for the match: they find a stick that they think will inflict the most pain on their opponent, sharpen it until it becomes the African equivalent of a light saber, and then head off to the duel. By the way, they’re 12 years old.

"This oughta do the trick!"

The match begins, and the first boy stands with his arms above his head, waiting for the other kid to start wailing on him with a sharpened branch. He takes three shots, and then the boys switch positions. I don’t think I can really come up with a description that does justice to this whole ordeal, so here’s a picture of the end result:

Have I mentioned that they're 12?

Anyway, when each boy has taken his three shots, the crowd decides who’s won based on who hit the hardest and who flinched the least. While getting whipped with a stick. And, oh yeah, didn’t I mention the crowd? Apparently, clans gather from up to 50 miles away to watch the duel, in what I can only assume is a genuine tribal bonding experience.

A possible alternative, perhaps?

Finally, as the duel comes to a close, one fighter goes home with the scars of manhood, while the other goes home with the scars of… actually, he was kinda just beaten with a stick and got nothing out of it, huh. So I guess those’d be the scars of a really bad day.

A really, really bad day.



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