Kalukili (Spoon)

By: Adenike Cosgrove Tagged:


The social and spiritual lives of the Lega people, are governed by a central initiation society known as Bwami; Bwami is responsible for teaching morality through community performances, dances and objects. The Bwami association includes 5 society grades including:

  1. Bwali (meaning 'circumcision'; the prerequisite association for joining Bwami where initiates are circumcised (between the ages of 12 and 20) and are thought lessons on the values and behaviours expected to Bwami members);
  2. Kongobulumbu the lowest grade of Bwami followed by a short ceremony where recently circumcised initiates are given even greater knowledge about the association;
  3. Ngandu is the highest grade in some communities (of which bombwa is the female equivalent);
  4. Yananio level consists of two sub-groups, the musagi wa yananio and the lutumbo iwa yananio (bulonda is the female equivalent) and,
  5. Kindi which is the most senior level of Bwami, sub-divided into three grades, kyogo kya kindi, musagi wa kindi and finally lutumbo iwa kindi. Bunyamwa is the equivalent kindi grade for women.

A Lega man must pass through all (voluntary) initiation societies respectively to be considered a rounded man with full insight into ancestral teachings and traditions. The Bwami association is also believed to strengthen bonds within the community.

Each initiation society has its own associated objects and sculptures (isengo, pl. masengo meaning ‘heavy things’) including the kalukili spoon (also called kakili) owned by yananio and kindi initiates. The spoons are used to symbolise the importance of continuity and growth through food. Wise old men of the community use the spoons to eat porridge, communicating to the village the high rank they hold in the community. The spoons are also used at Bwami ceremonies to symbolically feed performing masquerades through their masks as well as during circumcision rituals of the bwali association where young initiates place the spoons between their teeth to stem the pain of the operation.

Distinguishing Features

  • Head formed by the oval concave bowl
  • Form of spoon handles vary but mostly used to represent female figure
    1. Female standing figure
      • Some have arms free from body
      • Two straight short legs
    2. Diamond-shaped, zigzag, jagged stem of the spoon
  • Decorated with dots

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