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January 21, 2019

Circumcisers sanctify knives as Bukusu boys prepare for the cut

Circumcision of boys from the Luhya subtribes of Bukusu, Tachoni, Banyala and Kabras starts today /NICHOLAS WAMALWA
Circumcision of boys from the Luhya subtribes of Bukusu, Tachoni, Banyala and Kabras starts today /NICHOLAS WAMALWA

A white goat and two cockerels of the same colour were slaughtered and eaten by circumcisers on Monday in preparation for circumcision of Luhya boys starting today.

The circumcisers gulped busaa and occasionally sprinkled the brew on about 3,000 knives to be used to cut the boys.

At least 8,000 Bukusu boys are expected to undergo circumcision in Kakamega, Bungoma, Trans Nzoia and parts of Busia counties.

Each knife will be dedicated to one boy to avoid contracting diseases. 

The dedication is among the health and safety standards that have been put in place after traditional circumcisers completed preparations for the 

month-long ceremony.

Monday’s event was a rehearsal meant to sanctify the knives.

In the past, one knife was used to cut several boys, a practice that was blamed for the spread of diseases.

Head of the circumcisers Martin Shikuku said the first boys who are normally cut on August 1 are children of the circumcisers.

The move is to pave way for those from other families to undergo the ritual from the second day of the month.

Those to be circumcised are aged between 10 and 15. They are from the Bukusu, Tachoni, Banyala and Kabras communities.

The event is held in August and December every two years. Families are expected to pay Sh20,000 for each boy to be circumcised. The circumcision marks the boys’ initiation into adulthood.

Most families have however opted to have their boys cut in hospital to save on cost. It costs Sh2,000 to undergo the cut in public health facilities where it is also considered safer.

Peter Masinde, a Bukusu elder, said boys who undergo the cut in hospital miss out on certain important advice known as “Khubita” which is essential in one’s life.

He said boys who undergo the cut the traditional way are often respectful compared to those circumcised in hospital.



Among the Bukusu, the knife is known as “lukembe” and the circumcision process referred to as “embalu.”

Masinde said all traditional circumcisers have been warned against having sex during the period of circumcision to allow the process go on untainted. 

Last month, an NGO was asked to return the foreskin of 19 boys whom they picked and circumcised at a subcounty hospital without their parent’s consent.

In Bukusu culture, the boys undergoing circumcision, whether in hospital or traditionally, are supposed to be accompanied by their parents or a relative. And when the boy is circumcised, the foreskin is wrapped, put in a container and given to the parent or relative to dispose in a safe place.




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