Bukusu traditional circumcisers have vowed to proceed with this year’s circumcision ceremony despite the prevailing ban on public gatherings.
According to the circumcisers, they have the blessings of the Luhya 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 Baraza noted that there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the area and, therefore, the circumcision ceremony should proceed as planned.
“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 on Tuesday.
“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.”
Mr Godfrey Makokha Wang’onda, a parent whose son is preparing to undergo the cut, ruled out postponing the traditional rite of passage.
“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,” he said.
Another parent, Shadrack Apalala Juma from Mayanja Kibuke, said that Luhya traditions dictate that boys must be circumcised 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,” he said.
“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,” added Edward Wekesa from Kanduyi.
Mathias Makhanu Wanjala, a parent from Chwele, told the Nation: “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 hospital.”
However, Bungoma County Commissioner Abdi Hassan said Covid-19 regulations did not exempt cultural ceremonies and 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.
“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.”