Sports say a lot about what a culture values, don’t they? From watching international soccer on a big screen TV to cheering on local gymnastics meets, people around the world value the physical finesse and skill needed to engage in these intense activities.
Last week, we invited a friend over to share with her about Togo. She brought her two sons and one of them was telling us about his wrestling season. He has traveled all around the state going to various wrestling meets and is enjoying it immensely.
We shared with him that, in northern Togo, the Kabiye people have their own form of wrestling, though it differs from his high school sport some…
I want to note that Evala is a tradition that is steeped in fetish beliefs. Those who follow Christ do not participate in the event.
From what I’ve read, Evala wrestling is a sort of initiation for young Kabiye men in West Africa. Their participation in this annual event is critical before they can be officially welcomed into society and viewed as adults. For a week prior to the tournament, young men spend time in isolation, preparing mentally and physically. They consume dog meat, believed to help them be cunning, smart, faithful men.
Then, during the tournament (which takes place in June/July), people gather around to watch these young competitors cross the great divide separating them from manhood. As the crowd chants and cheers, the men show their strength and fortitude to prove their ability to defend their community when necessary.
I’m pretty sure that spending a week in isolation eating dog meat is not at all what our young friend does to prepare for his wrestling tournaments here in Alaska.
This brief video highlights not just Evala wrestling, but its effects on the Kara region in general: