Evala Wrestling

Evala is a wrestling sport practiced by the Kabye people of northern Togo. In wrestling competitions, boys try to prove there manhood by winning an Evala wrestling match and is used as an intiation ceremony.

Evala is a form of traditional wrestling practiced mainly by the Kabyé of northern Togo, in West Africa. Competitors meet yearly in a festival. Evala is the culmination of a week of initiation which marks the transition of young males into adulthood.

Most commonly practiced by the Kabye people in Togo, Evala is a traditional wrestling art from west Africa. For young men in the area, it is considered the penultimate element in a rite of passage into adulthood, which includes climbing three mountains, intensive mental and physical training, and circumcision. Those who fail the training are not initiated into adulthood. Fights take place on a yearly basis at the Evala festival.

Although wrestlers are initiated regardless of whether they win or not, winning the fight is of primary importance-a loss is considered to bring shame on the participant and his family. This encourages the fighter to train hard and focus on his master’s teachings.

The initiation lasts a week and involves isolating the young adults from their families and keeping them in special huts where they are fed and put through their mental paces.

At the end of the week, the participants go on a pilgrimage which involves climbing three mountains. Anyone who does not complete this pilgrimage cannot be initiated into adulthood. The penultimate element of this initiation rite is EVALA.

A wresting day where wrestlers are pitched against opponents from other villages. All wrestlers will be initiated regardless of whether they win or not.

However, losing is considered shameful to the family name. The final process of this initiation ceremony consists of circumcisions.