this solemn day of Monday 26th January 2015 I am tempted to reflect on the concept and consequences of Initiation into our Honoured Order, principally because today is the 35th Anniversary of my Initiation into the Order.
You know that one of the most fundamental concepts starting from the late 19th century to today has been that of 'Initiation'. Freemasons, magicians, various groups initiate candidates into their temples, lodges and organisations, each group having its own ways and methods of Initiation. Initiation Rites are not strange to Africa either. Indeed in all African traditions various types of initiations abound. But principally there are five rites of initiation- birth, adulthood, marriage, eldership, and ancestorship.
The Constitution of the Order of the Knights of St. Mulumba Nigeria 2005 as amended uses the word 'Initiation' a number of times without stating the meaning of initiation. In particular Section 11 (c) says that 'No person shall become a member of the Order unless he has been properly initiated and admitted into the Order according to the rites of the Order' while Section 11 (d) exempts every Catholic Bishop from undergoing the processes of initiation. But what is Initiation? What is the purpose of Initiation?
The word Initiation comes from the Latin ‘Initiatio' (initiationis) implying a beginning. The related term 'initiate' means to begin or start a particular action, event, circumstance or happening. An initiation is also a ceremony by which a person is introduced into a society, or other organised body, especially the rite of admission into a secret society or order.
I am very certain that the word 'Initiation' is not in the Bible. However instead of the word initiation the New Testament Authors speak of being ‘baptised’, of 'baptism’ or of ‘being born again’. But I am sure you will find the word 'Initiation' in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, where baptism is referred to as an initiation of a candidate into the cult of Jesus Christ and the candidate is called a Christian after passing many stages of initiation and after undergoing various initiation rites.
The Code of Canon Law use the word 'Initiation’ in Canon 842(2)-‘the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and the blessed Eucharist so complement one another that all are required for full Christian initiation’. De Initiations Christiana: Ordo Baptismi parvulorum (1969) says that “men and women are delivered from the power of darkness through the sacraments of Christian Initiation”. ‘They die with Christ, are buried with Christ and rise again with Him’.
We can therefore identify initiation as a form of rites of passage. As rites of passage initiation is a subclass of ritual. Thus we can define Initiation as ritual processes directed towards a candidate or candidates, and having effect on those candidates. It may be said simply that the aim or purpose of initiation is to transform the candidate being initiated from his or her present state to a new state of life. For some depending on the society, the transformation may be for worse state of life. For others the transformation may be for a new and better state of life. For instance initiation of innocent or willing candidates to a society of gangsters cannot make the initiates spiritually better in life but merely to transform them to become criminals. However initiation of candidates into the Order of the Knights of St. Mulumba Nigeria is geared at making the candidates better Catholics and better citizens.
In almost every tradition Initiation has three phases of the rites of passage or three Ritual stages or the so called Tripartite Structure of Separation, Transition, Reincorporation or Pre-liminal, Liminal, and Post-liminal. The Latin word ‘limin’ from where the word ‘liminal’ is derived simply means ‘threshold’.
AN INITIATION must therefore have the following characteristics-
a) IT must separate the candidate from his former life and transform him to a new life.
b) IT must ritually bring the candidate into the group;
c) IT must integrate the candidate into the group as a bona fide member of the group with appropriate rights particularly a right to membership and corresponding obligations.
Thus the structure can be put as follows-
a) Pre-Liminal Phase
This is the First Phase which prepares the candidate for initiation. The candidate must decide at this stage to either continue or to back out. It is directed towards the candidate and the aim is to develop in the candidate a sense of separation from his former life. Instilling of fear, anxiety, uncertainty into the candidate and his indoctrination begin here [accomplished by Briefing, Blindfolding, Celestial Music, Darkness, Explanation, Removal of blindfold, Costumes worn etc].
b) Liminal Phase or Initiation Proper
Having decided to undergo the Initiation the candidate crosses the threshold to this stage. This is the Second Phase. Here the candidate goes through a process or processes or instructions that will eventually qualify him to be a member of the Order. Various techniques and rites are employed- use of objects, symbols, demonstrations etc. The Chancellor has as his principal duty or function to indoctrinate the candidates. He instils certain ideas or beliefs into the minds of the candidates. He ensures that the candidates embrace the ideology of the Order. He teaches the candidates the rudiments or the fundamentals of the Order.
At the apex of initiation is Oath taking or Solemn Declaration. The Chancellor demands promises from the candidate. He must commit himself. The candidate calls on God Almighty to be his witness to the promises he is making. God thus becomes the surety of the candidate to the promises which the candidate makes. He promises to strive to serve God, defend the Church and serve and love all and sundry. He commits himself to be obedient and loyal to the Order. He undertakes to be disciplined both in his mind and his actions and so on and so on.
c) Post-Liminal Phase or the Integration Phase
This is the Final Phase whereby the candidate is declared a member of KSM Nigeria. The integration or declaration occurs during the ritual ceremony.
AT the end of a successful initiation ritual, the new initiate has a new status within the KSM Nigeria-a Knight on probation. This change in status is expressed within the ritual and produced by the ritual. The new initiate is recognized in his new status by use of badges, uniform, insignia.
In all, the candidate now called a member of KSM Nigeria is expected to turn from a life of selfishness and sin - a "Me First" life - to a life of Spirit-filled generosity and love. He becomes a man full of discipline and obedience, a man ready and willing to serve the Church, the Order and others, a man whose integrity and conduct are beyond dispute, a man of peace, and a man always ready to forgive, a man full of zeal and the Holy Spirit.
AS you join me to celebrate the 35th Anniversary of my initiation it is appropriate that we examine our conscience to determine how far we have fallen short of fulfilling those promises we made before God and brothers during our initiation and make definite effort to tackle those problems militating against fulfilling them. Trusting on the Grace of God and the powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ever Virgin we are sure to succeed in amending our ways to conform to the long and old established discipline of our Honoured Order.
Reading again the Ceremonial of Initiation publication to refresh our memories as to those promises made but which remain unfulfilled is the assignment for us-the Opus Mulumbanorum.
Myke Mary Nwosu
Deputy Supreme Knight
08035860339 or 08099770186
 Adapted from a paper “The Role of Chancellors at Initiation Ceremonies and protocols of the Order” presented at KSM Chancellors’ Seminar 2011 by Myke Mary Nwosu.
 Bernard S. Cayne: The New Lexicon Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language Deluxe Encyclopedic Edition 1991 Lexicon Publications Inc New York page 498
 Catechism of the Catholic Church: Paulines Publications Africa 2011 pages 281-292
 The Code of Canon Law (1983): Canon 842 Collins Liturgical Publications London p 156
 Vatican Council II Volume 1: : Paulines Publications Africa 2011 pages 23-24
 Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rite_of_passage