• "We had agreed as circumcisers in the county that the event will not take place if coronavirus pandemic persists. So why are doctors and nurses doing the same in hospitals?
Traditional circumcisers in Bungoma have demanded that hospitals in the county halt the circumcision of boys until the coronavirus pandemic is contained.
Circumcision among the Bukusu often takes place during the August holidays but this year's ritual has already been postponed due to the coronavirus disruption.
Traditional circumcisers led by their chairman, Sinino Mungolongolo said the ritual is an important event in Bukusu culture and that nobody should play around with it.
"We had agreed as circumcisers in the county that the event will not take place if coronavirus pandemic persists. So why are doctors and nurses doing the same in hospitals? Mungolongolo said.
They asked both the county and national government to intervene and stop the health officers from carrying out the exercise.
They asked Governor Wycliffe Wangamati to ensure that cultural activities are smoothly run.
"We want our governor to protect our culture. If we have said no circumcision then there should be none," he said.
Mungolongolo said circumcision is always carried out "on designated years so that we have the consistency of naming the age sets commonly referred to as bibingilo.
He said they had suggested that the event takes place in December and wondered why hospitals were in a hurry to cut boys.
"If this pandemic persists, we will be expected to circumcise our initiates in December. So those doing it now should wait" Mungolongolo said.
"If we have postponed the circumcision others should not do it because we shall be unable to name their age set."
They said December was ideal because the county will have established clinics in villages to allow the initiates and circumcisers to be tested for the coronavirus.
"We are not going to allow greedy health officers to interfere with the circumcision sequences in the community," the elder said.
Mungolongolo said in 1926 and 1938, there were no circumcision ceremonies because of the epidemics that forced the Bukusu boys to be circumcised during the bad year (sikumenya).
Circumcision is a biennial event conducted during years ending with even numbers.
Mungolongolo said sikumenya is the year to carry out rituals for the dead and is not suitable for the circumcision of initiates.
Edited by P.O