And finally the time came for the warrior to head home to his family. He was but a young teenager, sent out by himself into the wilderness to prove that he was ready for manhood.
He had to hunt, shelter and find water for himself during the five days. He had to protect himself, not only from dangerous cats and other beasts but also his fellow brothers who were sent out on the same mission.
It was fair game if they came across one another to steal each other’s food and shelter if they could. The warrior knew that there was some animosity amongst his brothers for he was the chief’s son.
He knew, they would not just steal his food or shelter if they found him, for they would kill him to stop him becoming the new leader of the tribe when the time came.
The others wanted to prove above all else that they were worthy of being leader and that they were stronger and more resilient than him. But he knew that he was more cunning and thoughtful.
He knew the ways of the forest and the universe. He understood the rules of surviving and thriving and of love. He would send them love which would blindside them and keep him hidden from his enemies.
This was their last opportunity to get rid of him for once he was a man and back in the village, there would not be another occasion where they could challenge him.
He would be treated and respected as a man and as the son and rightful aire to his father, the powerful leader of the tribe. He also knew, deep in his heart that it was not an automatic right.
He still had to fight for those five days in the wilderness. The fathers of the other young boys vying to become men would have told them that if they ever wanted to lead the tribe, then this was their last opportunity.
They would have to hunt him down and kill him and then pretend nothing had happened and they didn’t know where he was. They would bury his body under large rocks or make sure a hungry beast would find and devour him leaving no doubt what had befallen him.
If he did not return, it would weaken his father’s position and put him in a difficult situation knowing in the face of the tribe that he had a son that was not up to the standard he should have been.
He had not proved himself to be a great teacher and had let his child die. And so, the young warrior knew what was at stake but he also knew he had all the skills he required to thrive by himself in the wild forests and mountains.
Firstly, he would run far, at least for a day. The others would not expect him to be so far away for they would stay as close to the camp as possible without being seen but for the sense of safety that it offered.
They knew that if they were attacked or things went horribly wrong and they cried out, someone would come and save them. They also understood that they could practically guard the camp from our young warriors return.
It would be a bit like running the gauntlet to get back home. Again, our young warrior was more cunning that his brothers, proving again his worth as a future leader. After running for a day, he would make camp close to a stream.
He would hunt and eat berries that would be more than enough to sustain him over the next three days. Then, he would run back again but he would circle around the whole village and approach from the rear where he was not expected.
A big fire would be made for their return at sunset. There would be much celebration for the ceremony of the boys becoming men. When they became men, they shed their boyhood.
They were treated as men, expected to go on hunting parties, to protect the tribe, especially the woman and children. They would fight for the tribe and choose a mate and create a family that they would be responsible for.
They would also be responsible for their own life, there was no more mothering or fathering once they became a man. Their childhood was over and they had proved they were now capable of being a strong and wise warrior.
However, it was no guarantee that all of them would survive and return to the camp. Or some would return injured, perhaps a day or two early. This was the ultimate shame.
To fail the test of manhood. They would have another chance to prove themselves in six moons time otherwise, they would be banished and would surly die out in the wild by themselves, especially if they had proven themselves to be incapable.
It was hard but fair. The tribe needed strong warriors to hunt and protect them, they could not carry anyone who was not useful to them. The world was too dangerous for that.
And so, our young warrior carried out his plan. He saw his other brothers waiting for him, hiding in the tall grass and amongst the trees. But he circled past them, smiling to himself and he entered the camp from the rear and came upon the waiting crowd, confident, healthy and strong.
A broad grin crossed his fathers face as he saw his son, a man for the first time. He had excelled himself and his family. His father knew he had taught him well but there was still a glimmer of relief when his son strode into the firelight.
There was much rejoicing and slowly the other young men realised they had missed their opportunity and came back into the camp as well, as men.
They knew that their future leader had proven himself the best of them and they were proud. They rejoiced in the fact there tribe’s future was in good hands for the sons leader was just as good as his father.