This year’s Tiriki cultural circumcision will not face traditional rivalry and violence because two competing factions have merged.
Elders in Shiru ward, Hamisi, Vihiga county, managed to arrange a truce and even cooperation.
Shiru region elder Joash Luyali said on Monday two factions of the Tiriki usually fight during circumcision over how to conduct the ceremony.
“Shiru is the hub of Tiriki culture and this is where a lot of violence has been witnessed in the past,” he said.
“That is why we have decided to come together to seek peace.”
The elders spoke at Old Shiru Market, where some boys are undergoing the traditional ritual.
Circumcision for the Tiriki began on Sunday and will be carried out in the region until August 7.
Although some people have opposed working together, Luyali is optimistic the merger will spread to the entire Tiriki community.
However, Tiriki Council of Elders chairman Thomas Ingara refused to comment on the merger, saying the council will issue a press statement today.
Tirikis circumcise boys from the age of 12, every five years.
They are divided into two factions: a traditional one known as Tiriki Musituni and a Christian-based one called Vanusu, meaning ‘not complete’.
The Tiriki culture is heavily borrowed from the Terik and Nandi, despite their Luhya language.
During circumcision, Tirikis perform all their rituals in the Kalenjin culture and language.
The Musituni circumcised boys wear animal skins during the 30 days of healing and stay in a makeshift hut in the forest.
They are not allowed to interact with the outside world.
The boys do not use any metallic or plastic object for eating, and instead use calabashes.
They do not sleep on mattresses or cover themselves with sheets after the ritual, but sleep on banana leaves and cover themselves with animal skins.
Traditional liquor, busaa, is brewed in every home where a Tiriki boy is circumcised and women are banned from getting close to the boys.
For the Vanusu faction, the boys are not taken far from home.
Although they do not interact with women, Vanusu boys enjoy the comfort of bedsheets and various entertainment.
The rivalry between the Musituni and Vanusu factions is evident through messages in their songs.
The two groups usually fight when they meet.
This is what prompted Shiru elders to look for a solution, Luyali said.
He said they are not forcing either group to unite, but want them to willingly cooperate.
Luyali said the two factions are free to exercise their different cultures under one umbrella.
He asked the Tiriki community to unite and “be one big family”.
People from the two factions are allowed to eat and dance together unlike in the past.
Shiru ward administrator Hudson Mwashi supported the move by the elders, saying it will end the fighting.