The gains made on the “cut”

Kenneth Jura | Kenya

On my last blog I indicated that I will perhaps try to elucidate the gains made in as far as male circumcision in Luo-Nyanza is concerned.

My previous blog which talked of the Luo initiation rite

The male circumcision popularly known as the Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision Programme (VMMCP) in the health circles has had its share of successes and demerits in combating HIV/AIDS.

Double digit prevalence rate

The HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in Luo-Nyanza is double the national rate. Nationally, the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate stands at 6.3% with Nyanza at 13.9% with some parts having high prevalence rate as high as 27% – Suba district being an example. With this in mind then it was only sage to circumcise the men so as to reduce the chances of HIV/AIDS infection. Studies have indicatively shown that the human foreskin tissue is highly susceptible to uptake of HIV, circumcision therefore reduces the chances of genital ulcer disease and infection with papilloma virus, the agent that causes penile cancer in men and cervical cancer in female partners of uncircumcised men. Chamydia infection – which can cause infertility – is also more common in the female partners of uncircumcised men.

The community leaders in Luo-Nyanza have played a cogal role in advocating and sensitizing its populace to go for the cut which has greatly been accepted by both the young and the old and thus go in for it in their droves. Women have also played a vital role in ensuring their men go for the cut.

Dancing on their graves

There is however a silent worrisome trend among the circumcised youth which negates the gains made in the fight towards reduction of new HIV/AIDS infections.

During funerals there is usually thum – village dance usually organized at night. It is simply keeping vigil. While at the dance the youth engage in excessive consumption of alcohol and abuse of drugs such as bhang.  This disproportionate uptake impairs their judgment and there after engage in unprotected sexual intercourse with multiple partners within a night. I would analogize this by; perhaps the person whom they (youth) are mourning may have died of HIV/AIDS then while they mourn in the best way they know they engage in unprotected sexual escapades that puts them in the same danger line as the deceased. Perchance they are oblivious that they are dancing on their graves. There are some parts of Luo-Nyanza than has imposed a total ban on thum.

It is however great to note that Kenya as a country leads in the number of circumcisions done in Africa, with this in mind then we may reach our set target, by WHO and UNAIDS, where by an estimated 4 million adults infections will be averted by 2015.


Kenya Demographic Health Survey

National Guidance for Voluntary male Circumcision


The Luo’s initiation rite

Kenneth Juror | Kenya

We may have seen individuals who do not have six lower teeth notably, the people’s watchman, Martin Shikuku. The gap was not only for a selected community but others have gaps though not as big as removal of the six lower teeth, perhaps one or two, which is a story for another day.

Today however, I will attempt to elucidate the procedure of how the Luos underwent their initiation; removal of the six lower teeth.

Initiation age     

Boys and girls who were between the ages of 12-15 qualified for this age-old-initiation-rite which was to be a gigantic event.

The initiate knelt facing the extractor who was armed with a sharp-pointed-end of a hoe, no anesthetic was used. The sharp end was forced in between the middle of the incisors. Once the first middle tooth had been removed, the remaining incisors on both sides will have been shaken loose. As the hoe was being forced in between the lower dentition, a hole was dug next to the initiate for spitting blood flowing freely from the gum.

Potassium Permanganate       

The five remaining teeth were hand extracted. The aftermath was not a sight to look at as the holes on the gum were gaping and quite frightening. Potassium permanganate was then poured on the holes so as to cure and more over sterilize the gum. The excruciating pain experienced during the process signified the rite of passage from childhood to adulthood on the other hand use of potassium did not make the situation any better as its reaction with saliva made the whole process quite agonizing.

Dr. Gikonyo Ndiuini, a dentist in Eldoret once told me that the procedure was more painful than the cut practiced these days! However, I would not wish to go into the debate on which is more painful to the other. This initiation ceremony has nevertheless been relegated as the cut is presently practiced.

The cut is however not practiced as an alternative rite of passage of the Luo and the other non-circumcising communities but rather an embraced medical procedure that reduces the chances of HIV/AIDS and cancer of the cervix infections.

I will cover the voluntary male circumcision in Nyanza in my subsequent blog.  

The security apparatus is a shell!

Kenneth Jura | Kenya

President Mwai Kibaki launched a peace conference that marked two years since the promulgation of the new constitution. As he launched the peace conference in Bomas, a Muslim cleric was killed by unknown assailants in Mombasa. Aboud Rogo Mohammed, he is accused of being an Al-Shaabab supporter and also on the United Nation’s and the United States’ sanction list.

As news spread of his death than the youth spread on the Mombasa streets protesting against his death causing pandemonium, looting and destroying two churches, it should however not take a religious twist but Rogo’s case be dealt with as a criminal offense. This incident and many more unpleasant insecurity incidences happening in this country should not only be condemned in the strongest terms possible but action is equally wanted.

Last week’s bloodbath witnessed in Coast and North Eastern provinces is not anything to write home about in as far as our security is concerned. It is very unfortunate that what could have been amicably resolved took a political twist that a community is using the mis-understanding to “reduce” voters of the other. This scenario subsequently means that the opponent community would have fewer voters denying them a chance to propel one of their own to the governor, senate, Member of Parliament, women and county representatives’ positions. It is worrying that the provincial administration and internal security officials are always full of rhetoric with the same old colloquial “we are in hot pursuit of the assailants, we will crack the whip…”

Such situations make me miss the former president who never allowed such occurrences to continue as law and order would be restored within no time however much he had his flaws.

As I write this I could not stop thinking of how a bleak insecure country we are in. A country that its people are getting killed and killing each other as the security personnel take sides in the battle yet they took an oath to serve the Republic and the mwananchi regardless of their ethnicity, race, political affiliation and protection of their property, further explained in their motto utumishi kwa wote . Sorry if I sound like a naysayer but if the status quo remains then there will be no more modus operandi in this country as 2007/8 PEV would appear as boyish-war!

Let us maintain peace, shun intolerance, obey the rule of law, the judicial wheel is spinning, as we march towards the general election.

What do we gain if not lose by stifling the economic gains made in five years and erode it in days through civil unrest? I remember constable Mathenge’s words as he quelled irate youth “Hii Kenya yetu tumeijenga kwa miaka mingi mbona tunataka kuiharibu in one day?