Elders vow to defy Covid-19 rules in circumcision row

Initiates carrying bells in Eldoret town in 2018. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • When reached for comment, Bungoma County Commissioner Abdi Hassan said that anyone found flouting the Covid-19 restrictions will face the full force of the law.

Bukusu elders have vowed to go ahead with this year’s circumcision ceremony despite the prevailing ban on public gatherings, setting the stage for a possible clash with the government.

Some of the traditional circumcisers told the Nation Tuesday that they have the blessings of the community’s elders.

"We have started preparing our children for this year's circumcision season after we got the green light from our elders," said Mr Allan Baraza, the Mayanja circumcision committee coordinator.

Mr Godfrey Makokha Wang'onda, a parent who is preparing his son for the rites, said that they will not postpone the ceremony.

‘COME RAIN, COME SHINE’

"We must circumcise our children, come rain, come shine. We have enough food to feed them during the entire healing period. Our circumcisers are well prepared. We have a knife for each child and we shall be adhering to all the Covid-19 restrictions. We have enough sanitisers and gloves," said Mr Wang'onda.

Shadrack Apalala Juma from Mayanja Kibuke said that Luhya traditions dictate that parents must circumcise their children within a certain period.

"The President recently reopened the country partially. People have been going to churches while others have been travelling upcountry. This is the reason why we are going ahead with this activity. The traditional circumcisers have already performed a cleansing ceremony and we cannot look back," said Mr Juma, who is among those preparing their children for the cut.

Mr Edward Wekesa from Kanduyi said that he had prepared his son to face the knife because it is a must in their culture to do so.

"We can only circumcise right now because there is no way it can be done when they are grown up. We cannot wait for Covid-19," said Mr Wekesa.

TESTED POSITIVE

Mr Mathias Makhanu Wanjala, a parent from Chwele, said: "The months of July and August are our time to do our thing and nothing is going to stop us. We shall circumcise our children according to our traditions and we will not take them to hospitals," he said.

Mr Baraza however said that there was no one in the area who had tested positive for Covid-19.

"We are being told that there is an outbreak of Covid-19 but we have not witnessed any death in our area related to the pandemic. That is why we have sought for blessings of our elders so that we can go ahead with the circumcision," he said, adding that anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 will be taken to hospital.

"Anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 will be taken to hospital and treated. We are only doing this in the villages. Even police officers should understand that this is our culture. It is interesting that we are yet to witness any Covid-19 positive cases in our area or even from relatives who reside in urban areas," he added.

COUNTRY’S SECURITY

When reached for comment, Bungoma County Commissioner Abdi Hassan said that anyone found flouting the Covid-19 restrictions will face the full force of the law.

"I have received information that during this circumcision period, we have people who are moving around at night in this county. But when we get them because it is not allowed, they will have to record statements and be taken to forced quarantine," said Dr Abdi. He said the Covid-19 regulations did not exempt cultural ceremonies.

"All lawbreakers will be dealt with ruthlessly. No one should break the law under the pretext of culture and traditions without a care about the repercussions," explained Dr Abdi. He said the pandemic is a threat to the country's security.