Art and culture in African communities has been used as a tool to entertain, educate, and create awareness of phenomenal issues that could have affected the society either positively or negatively.
The adapting of the new way of life and the current incorporation of the Western culture among our African traditional cultures have taken centre stage, forcing the community, somehow to align themselves to remain relevant in the 21st century.
However, some communities have struggled to shred some of the retrogressive cultures that were practiced way before the nation got its independence.
The Kuria Community, for example, has been trying to shake off the retrogressive Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) for quite some time, with not much success.
The Kuria Region has at least 20 Non-Governmental Organisations fighting the retrogressive vice of FGM, early marriage, teenage pregnancies, and Gender-Based Violence.
The course of early marriage, teenage pregnancies, and gender-based violence have been directly associated with the FGM menace.
Even though the vice has greatly reduced, it has completely refused to go away acting like a little daredevil that keeps nagging the community.
According to James Onyango, an Ideal Research Official, the iniquity of FGM should be tussled with the rich magical Kuria art, dance, and cultural music initiative to enlighten the community on the harmful effects of FGM.
Onyango who engaged youths and Kuria community members in promoting art and music in Kuria East Sub County says that by embracing art and cultural activities like dance and music, the community may succeed in shaking off the FGM menace by stamping out the retrogressive cultural activity to enable the community to align itself to positive opportunities.
In recent times, the fight against FGM has been forged in all corners to appeal to the social fabric of the Kuria society. The Anti-FGM Board, Migori County, the National Government, and Anti-FGM NGOs have all played their part.
Even the Kuria Elders have tried to appease the spirits of FGM ghosts to ensure the vice is abandoned by their clansmen with not much positive impact.
“I think it is time we focus a lot of your energies on promoting Kuria art, music, and cultural dance to educate the community on the negative effects of FGM”, Onyango stated.
Onyango says that it’s high time the Kuria Community embark on the usage of arts and cultural music activities to eradicate the FGM tormentor.
The significance and use of different arts and cultural music and dance practices to inform and change the attitudes toward practicing FGM will be equally important in the fight against any retrogressive vices in society.
Onyango notes that the community needs to embrace the concept of cultural democracy as a way to acknowledge and support a variety of cultural activities within a given community with the aim of weeding out harmful cultures and practices and improving on better ones.
Art and culture are rarely understood as an independent way to experience, meaning creation, and values in everyday life. Onyango says that the Kuria society should start to appreciate art and cultural activities as a true identity in educating the community on negative retrogressive vices like FGM.
He agrees that the majority of individuals use art and culture for entertainment purposes giving a wide breath to the education part, a crucial key ingredient in societal positive cultural change.
Sylvester Masiaga a community elder acknowledges that it’s time the community embraced culture to deal with harmful traditional vices.
Masiaga has urged the local NGOs concerned with the eradication of FGM to incorporate art and cultural efforts to help stamp out the retrogressive cultural activity.
He says that the community has various types of dances like Isururu, Egetomo, Induru to celebrate important functions like weddings, circumcisions, and the elderly and there is no reason why the same cannot be used to eradicate the FGM vice.
Masiaga also added that other communities that used to practice FGM have abandoned the vice giving opportunities to their women to engage in productive cultural agendas.
In August this year, Migori County hosted Governors’ spouses across the six counties including Kajiado, Narok, West Pokot, Marsabit, Nyamira, and Taita Taveta to help motivate and educate the Kuria girls on the harmful effects of FGM.
Masiaga bemoans that FGM skunk has derailed the development of women and girls in the Kuria community making them unable to compete for jobs and other county and state opportunities due to early marriages and other negative baggage brought by FGM.
He encouraged the use of music and arts to be spread to schools and learning institutions to help exterminate the negative vices in the community.
Migori County is on a high risk of the FGM practice this November-December season from the fact that schools are on holiday break. The cross-border FGM has also been identified by the security apparatus as the new mode of evading the security agencies at the Sirare-Isebania border along the Kenya-Tanzania border.
By Geoffrey Makokha