Samburu elders have undertaken to eradicate Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the area by signing a declaration that will see them spearhead the fight against female circumcision. Elders from the nine clans of the Samburu Community today converged at the culturally hallowed Kisima grounds to pen the covenant and bless the historic declaration in a ceremony attended by President Uhuru Kenyatta. Speaking after signing the declaration, Samburu Council of Elders spokesperson Matthew Neepe said that the journey began in 2018 when the menfolk started getting involved in the fight against FGM and early marriages in the community. He said that apart from FGM being illegal, it poses physical and psychological effects on girls and after being engaged by various stakeholders on the negative impacts they had resolved that time to come up with an alternative rite of passage was now. “We are the custodians of our culture and we have unanimously decided that from now on our girls will go through the rite of passage as usual but without the cut and shedding of blood,” Neepe said. Neepe also noted that elders have lifted the age-old curse cast upon uncircumcised girls, which hinders them from getting married, having children or being recognized in cultural ceremonies. Nine elders, each representing the nine Samburu clans signed the declaration to end FGM and early marriages while Samburu governor Moses Lenolkulal signed on behalf of the County government and Cabinet Secretary for Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs Prof. Margaret Kobia singed the document on behalf of the national government. Viola Ruto, Samburu Amref anti-FGM coordinator said that the dialogue journey with Samburu elders started in Samburu East in 2018 as a way of finding an alternative but lasting solution to FGM and early marriages. “As a start we were directed to the community’s sacred Mt Ng’iro where the elders were very receptive and we were further sent to the six mountains of Samburu county that are Ndoto, Ng’iro, Loroki, Marsabit, Wamba and mount Kula. Together with the Anti-FGM board we engaged the elders in structured, respectful and fruitful dialogue that has brought us to this day,” Ruto said. We are also engaging and supporting the reformed female circumcisers on how to earn alternative sources of income like poultry and goat keeping that does well in this region. On his part Samburu Governor Moses Lenolkulal said that FGM might not stop immediately after the elders declaration but said it’s a process that will involve women, youth and leaders with the customary blessings of elders. “As an alternative rite of passage for our girls, the county government will offer full scholarship for any student who scores 350 marks and above and for those who will score a mean grade of ‘A’ in KCSE,” Lenolkulal said.
by Robert Githu