A most spectacular aspect of the Christmas season was that we would get the opportunity to either undergo FGM or circumcision for the boys or celebrate our friends and relatives that would undergo FGM and circumcision and in the process, participate in the pomp of activities that would follow.
Christmas is here again and for most of us, it is a time to celebrate, be with family, and thank God for the privilege. I choose to keep the tradition of the joy and festivities of Christmas as we did when I was young. Growing up, I loved Christmas most because of the thrill it brought;
We would have closed school and probably promoted to the next class.
We would go visiting our favorite relatives.
We would meet up with our friends in the rivers or while fetching firewood.
We would eat good food including chapatti, meat, chicken, soda, juice, and many more. We rarely enjoyed these foods until Christmas time.
A most spectacular aspect of the Christmas season was that we would get the opportunity to either undergo FGM or circumcision for the boys or celebrate our friends and relatives that would undergo FGM and circumcision and in the process, participate in the pomp of activities that would follow. Of course there would be good food, dancing, and best of all, the excuse from daily chores as we would hang around the houses hosting the ‘patients’ and take part in the festivities. It was a way of life that we did not know or even imagine would have any harm in the life of the beautiful girls in white angelic dresses.
A lot has changed since then and now.
Somewhere along the way we have learnt that female circumcision is not only harmful to the girl but illegal in our country. I have also changed with age as well. I know I cannot play the passive role that I played then;
I cannot party to and enjoy a tradition that is harmful to small girls.
I have my own now.
I must protect them.
Christmas continues to be the best time of the year for me and my family. I still live in a village but with my own family now. I am trying to be vigilant and notice any activities of FGM. People here do not know my profession precisely; many think I am a police officer, others a nurse, and some no idea at all.
I do talk to the women that I come across if girls in the village are being circumcised this holiday.
They tell me no.
I know it is out of fear.
I do hear ululations in the evenings.
Some girls that would hang out with mine are out of sight.
I just hope that they are really sick or visiting as I am told.
One thing I have learnt in this one year of active work in creating awareness on the effects of FGM is patience. I have also learnt to take my time and understand the mind and thinking of my people. While others are eager to embrace change, others are resigned to the fate of culture. They all have their reasons for the predicament.
I thought I could say that staying in Kisii their entire lifetime is a cause for men and women to be adamant about abandoning FGM. But I know people living in Nairobi that still circumcise their girls. I also know people living here that have embraced the change.
It is not so easy to understand the dimensions.
Sometimes I think it just depends on the personal attitude of an individual.
I have seen illiterate men and women support the fight against FGM while the elite still support the practice.
I have seen strict church adherents support FGM while those that do not know the Bible stand against it.
I have seen men support FGM and women oppose it, and vice versa.
I have seen administration officials support FGM by letting the practice to continue right under their watch.
I have seen medical practitioners perform FGM of little girls.
I have seen a mixture of it all.
I am left without a clear cut understanding of the motivation for FGM.
But in all that I have seen, I have seen men and women and even children that stand strongly against FGM.
I have talked to women in my village whose children I know and they have told me that they will not circumcise their girls.
Through the one year of service, I have identified a couple of men and women that have become real champions and ambassadors against FGM.
I wish for every girl around me to have a happy holiday motivated by the merriness of Christmas and the prospects of a new year.
I wish for every girl in my village a Christmas free of FGM.
Grace Morungi työskentelee Solidaarisuuden kumppanijärjestön Manga Heartin asiantuntijana Keniassa.