Blood pacts; the gone legacy

Good as it is to have friends the better to have those you can trust.  The generations that existed before ensured such trust by sucking the blood of their best friends or family friends. Friends cut each other, then later would suck each other’s blood. The body part that was commonly used was the hands but blood pacts done on the abdomen signified intimacy. In Rwanda it was  literally known as “Igihango”.
Cuts on the hands aimed at doing blood pacts.(Net Photo)
Cuts on the hands aimed at doing blood pacts.(Net Photo)

Good as it is to have friends the better to have those you can trust.

The generations that existed before ensured such trust by sucking the blood of their best friends or family friends.

Friends cut each other, then later would suck each other’s blood. The body part that was commonly used was the hands but blood pacts done on the abdomen signified intimacy. In Rwanda it was  literally known as “Igihango”.

Once they shared the blood, they devoted themselves to being faithful to their friends and sharing any secrets possible.

According to 69-year-old Maria Ndaguje, of Kacyiru, Kigali City, says that it was a taboo to disappoint or betray a friend whose blood you had sucked.

“We couldn’t dare cut our bodies if we did not trust the friends we were promising loyalty to; because breaking the pact was like committing suicide,” she recalls.

She solemly narrates how she exchanged blood with her first lover, who unfortunately died at an early age.

Like many others of her generation, Ndaguje realised that blood pacts weren’t actually backed by any supernatural powers, like she believed.

She was disappointed with the custom at seeing people kill their friends for ethnicity, yet they shared the blood pact.

“After the killings is when we actually realised that the pacts were nothing other than an attempt to unite families.” She explains.

They became fearless of myths like; breaking the pact would “cause misfortunes, throughout one’s lives,” or “bringing about unusual happenings like giving birth to albinos.

With the prevalence of HIV/ AIDS spread detected, the culture of sharing blood was discouraged. It has slowly faded out from most cultures in Africa.

Eugene Bakangwa, a trader from Musanze district, in the Northern Province, says that some remote families in his region still practice the custom.

“Some people in my area can not allow you into their family ring, or take their daughter without sharing blood, though the government has often taught about its bad side” he says.

He is positive though, that the practice will be eliminated in the near future. 

Emma.mprince@gmail.com

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