First Film Journal
Rite of Passage
According to Moore, “rites of passage”, or life crisis rites, program individuals
through generational time (coming of age and procreating the next generation) and
through their lifetimes (old age and death). Deductively, there are rites of birth, puberty,
initiation into young adulthood, marriage, birth of the next generation, and death. Hence,
a rite of passage marks a time when a person reaches a new and significant change in his/
her life. This is something that nearly all societies recognize and often hold ceremonies
for. These ceremonies are held to observe a person's entry into a new stage of life and can
be anything from a high school graduation ceremony or a birthday party, to a funeral.
Most rites help people to understand their new roles in society. They can also help others
learn to treat people in new ways after they experience certain rites of passage.
Moore vividly states in his book that a rite unfold through three phases in time.
Arnold van Gennep was the first to identify these phases in 1909 (1960), and coined the
term “rites of passage” and thought them universal phenomena that accompany transition
of any kind among human beings. The phases are separation from the old state, transition
(or liminality), and reincorporation into the new. In the separation phase, the participant
is taken away from his her/her familiar environment and former role, and enters a very
different and sometimes foreign routine that they are forced to adjust to and become
familiar with. The transition phase is the time that the participant learns the appropriate
behavior for the new stage they are entering. The last phase, incorporation takes place
when the participant is formally admitted into the new role. This model mentioned in
Moore’s textbook applies to an event in the film “A Rite of Passage” about Bushmen in
the Nyae Nyae area, as well to events in my personal experiences.
According to Marshall, Ti!kay and his father were traveling from /Gam to
/Gautscha when they saw the wildebeest. /Ti!kay stalked and shot the animal himself,
then went with his father to /Gautscha to get help from Crooked/Qui. Once the meat of
the kill was prepared and distributed, /Tikay was forbidden to eat or partake in the meal.
This part of the film buttresses Moore’s first model of the separation phase. /Ti!kay was
separated from the rest, because he could not sit with them to partake or even have any
piece of the meat. The rational behind this is that, he was still learning. If he ate the meat,
he would not get anything when he hunted. He would lose his luck. Meat is a core