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Covid-19 Affects Circumcision in Kenya

Traditions allow for postponement of circumcision ceremony if there is a risk to lives

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Job Wanyonyi
Job Wanyonyi
NAME:Job Wamalwa wanyonyi EDUCATION: Elgon View College MARITAL STATUS: Married PROFESSIONAL: Journalist, polical and culture journalist

KENYA. Kenya is a country made up of 44 tribes. Each tribe has its own culture. The Luhya community (Bukusu sub-tribe) circumcises their sons after every two years from age 12.

Pandemic Impacts Rite of Passage. Many business and institutions have been closed down due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The Government of Kenya banned all gatherings, affecting the Bukusu Circumcision Ceremony which was to be held from August to December 2020.

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This Ceremony brings all relatives and friends together as they witness the young man entering adulthood. Mr. Barasa, the spokesperson of the Bukusu community said on 12 June 2020, the ceremony has been postponed until 2021 due to this pandemic. He added that their traditions allow them to postpone the ceremony if the situation they are in risks the lives of the community.

An Important Ceremony Brings the Whole Community Together. A boy who believes in himself and wants to be circumcised makes the first decision that he is ready, and the elders are called to start the preparations of the ceremony. After the approval of the elders, the boy seeks his uncle’s advice about being an adult. In return the boy is given a cow or suitable gift by the uncle as a sign of appreciation to his parents.

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On returning home, the homestead will be filled with people who have come to celebrate the whole night. The boy is encouraged to be strong for the task ahead. People will sing and dance the all night as they wait for the final circumcision in the morning. In the morning the boy is taken to the river, washed and smeared with mud, and taken home to face the knife. After the cut, all the attendees will rejoice and gifts are given to the circumcised boy. From then on he is counted as an adult.

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