Cultural enthusiasts in Meru County will miss their usual pomp and colour associated with circumcision ceremonies following a raft of measures issued by the County Emergency Covid-19 team to combat the pandemic.
Usually, circumcision ceremonies are at their peak after young boys complete their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) when they are supposed to undergo the rite of passage before joining secondary schools.
In normal circumstances, the ceremonies are held in December but this has changed after disruption of the school calendar following the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic.
During this time, young men come out in large numbers where they dance to traditional songs as they mark the transition of the initiates from childhood to adulthood.
But yesterday, the emergency team led by the County Commissioner Kariuki Ngumo banned such ceremonies in entirety on the basis that they might water down efforts that the government has put in place to combat the spread of the pandemic.
“We have realised that in such ceremonies young boys come together in large numbers and this might be dangerous in regard to Covid -19. The ceremonies, therefore, stand banned until further notice,” Mr. Ngumo said.
The announcement is expected to face opposition from some of the people who usually hold dear to such activities especially those from Tigania and Igembe regions.
But Njuri Ncheke Council of elders Chairman Linus Katheera supports the move adding that this did not mean that the practice had been cancelled forever but for a while due to the pandemic.
“Our people should understand that the directive is meant for a short time and we will get back to them once the pandemic is over. I, therefore, urge all those who had planned for such ceremonies to suspend them for the sake of the lives of their own children and other members of the public,” Mr. Kathera said.
The County commissioner said his security team was alert to deal with those who will go against the directives.
Institutions planning to conduct mass circumcision of boys including the churches were also directed to limit the numbers of initiates per premise to 100 as well as ensuring they are certified by the public health department.
Churches will also be affected by the directives especially during the upcoming Easter holidays where they will be expected to limit members who attend services to a third of the total members.
There will be no processions which are usually especially by the Catholic Church during the Easter holidays. All ceremonies will strictly be conducted in the church.
The team has raised concern over the soaring number of Covid-19 patients in the county within a short period.
The county health executive Meshack Mutuma noted that in February there were only two people who were in isolation but at the moment more at least 191 people have been infected.
By Dickson Mwiti