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February 23, 2019

Free hospital circumcision keeps boys from illicit sex, says church

Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa leads locals in a song for initiates at Bikeke in his constituency on Sunday /NICHOLAS WAMALWA
Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa leads locals in a song for initiates at Bikeke in his constituency on Sunday /NICHOLAS WAMALWA

Church elders in Trans Nzoia yesterday said circumcising boys in hospital discourages unchristian sexual behaviour of polygamy and infidelity.

The church, through Ferdinand Wanyisia, asked the community to accept change, terming hospital circumcision godly because it does not involve any traditional customs.

Bukusu elders had on Friday warned churches and NGOs to stay away from circumcision-age boys.

“We don’t want this free circumcision by strangers who don’t even know our culture. They should offer their services elsewhere,” Bukusu cultural chairman Peter Masinde said.

Wanyisia, however, said circumcising boys in hospital under Christian ways helps to teach them Christianity and good virtues, compared to traditional circumcision.

In Luhya tradition, boys undergo an important session, known as “Khubita”, where they are also advised on good morals.

They are told the door that is closed is someone else’s, while the one that is open is yours. This means one is not allowed to have an affair with another person’s wife.

While Wanyisia agrees with this, he says the same clause allows polygamy, which he says is wrong.

“If you say the door that is open is yours, it means all unmarried women, widows and girls who just given birth while at their home belong to you,” he said.

He said boys under Khubita boys are also advised that before helping a woman in some tasks, such as splitting firewood, one is allowed to have sex with her, which he said is contradictory to the advice against affairs.

Wanyisia said it is also very expensive to circumcise boys traditionally because a family needs a bull to slaughter during the ceremony, at least two bags of maize flour for Busaa making and food for visitors. He said this is a threat to the economy of the Luhya nation.

But Masinde said organisations offering to circumcise boys for free in hospitals have nothing to offer for the cultural well-being of the community.

He termed Wanyisia’s statement disrespectful to the community, saying it is meant to harm the community’s essential aspect in a man’s life.

Traditional circumcision of boys of between 10 and 15 years among the Bukusu, Tachoni, Kabras and Banyala communities began on Wednesday.

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

The sons of the circumcisers were first to face the cut.

The circumcision drive, known as Embalu, takes place in August every even year, whereby boys between the ages of 10 and 15 face the knife in broad daylight to mark transition from childhood to adulthood.

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