What you need to know:
- Elders and religious groups have announced cancellation of the monumental ceremony saying circumcising boys en masse is too risky because of the to rising cases of coronavirus infections.
Circumcision ceremonies in central Kenya have been suspended this year over Covid-19 fears with over 500,000 boys set to miss the ritual.
Elders and religious groups have announced cancellation of the monumental ceremony saying circumcising boys en masse is too risky because of the to rising cases of coronavirus infections.
The rite of passage usually takes place every year in December targeting boys transitioning to secondary school.
During the circumcision period, elders usually take hundreds of initiates into a secluded camp inside Mount Kenya Forest where they undergo medical circumcision and receive teaching in the traditional setup. On the other hand, religious groupings have also been holding parallel ceremonies.
Now, Kikuyu Council of Elders has announced that it will not be conducting the ritual this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic elders have discussed and decided that this year’s circumcision be postponed to 2021. Let us be understanding,” Kikuyu Council of Elders national chair Wachira wa Kiago said.
The postponement of the ritual comes as a blow to the elders who have been making a steady comeback to take up their role in counseling the initiates in order to pass down cultural teachings from past generations.
Calling off the circumcision is also likely to dent the self-esteem of this year’s initiation candidates who were eager to transit from childhood.
Kiama Kia Ma, a cultural elders’ group which has also been conducting circumcision in Mt Kenya Forest, is also reported to be mulling over postponement of the exercise. The group’s officials however said they will be addressing the matter at a later time.
The Methodist Church in Kenya (MCK) and groups of elders who organize the ceremonies said they could not risk the lives of children for the sake of a ritual that would be performed at a later date.
They also cited the loss of 2020 academic year, saying boys who were normally circumcised are those who sit their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination awaiting to transit to form one.
Bishop Catherine Mutua who is in charge of Kaaga Synod said they had called off all the activities due to the pandemic.
The synod comprises of Meru and Laikipia counties and parts of Nyandarua with Miathene Synod, which is in Meru but also includes parts of Tharaka-Nithi and Isiolo counties also announcing cancellation of the ritual.
Mr Joseph Ikiara, MCK Men Fellowship chairman at the synod said after lengthy discussions with members, they had agreed to call off any such ceremonies countrywide until further notice.
“Unless the situation changes all the ceremonies stand suspended. Parents who wish to take their boys for circumcision will do it at their own risk,” Mr Ikiara told Nation in a phone interview yesterday.
He said over the past 16 years, the church has been conducting the ritual for nearly 3,000 boys each year.
“Due to modernization we discovered that values and morals were being eroded. There were also incidents of boys being beaten to death by those taking care of them in seclusion and we had to intervene,” he said.
Bishop Samuel Kathawe of Miathene Synod said they had also warned parents against circumcising their children this year.