..the explosive politics of facing the knife
As a matter of fact, while the Luo have never communally embraced this type of surgery, they have never been wholly against it either. In Luo land, circumcision has been a ‘none issue’….. more like whether one wears a pair of black or white pants i.e. personal decision. Unlike the case in other communities, this practice has never been associated with bravery, social status or rite of passage. The cut will not erode or enhance the Luo culture. It is of no cultural consequence.
In allowing the individual man to determine the personality of his ‘member’, the Luo community has been at the forefront of liberty.
So that is how life at the lakeside has been until a group of HIV researchers showed up with good advice. The rest is history. Luo men are forming long meandering queues in wait of the cut. Were it not for the scourge that is killing Kenyans like flies, Kisumu, in the dead of night, when all the bars and clubs are closed and patrons have gone home, would still be the noisiest city in the country.
So why talk about this painless practice in a political blog? Well, because it is political.
It will not escape the minds of Kenyans that the Luo people have been constantly and publicly degraded, demonized and ridiculed simply because of their reluctance to indulge in genital mutilation. In Kenya, the Luos have been shelved and associated with derogatory terms ever since the birth of the nation. Until Raila won the 2007 election, a section of Kenyans had been thoroughly convinced and indoctrinated to believe that an uncircumcised Gentile must never rule. It follows that many Luo men were rounded up by Mungiki surgeons and forcibly circumcised by use of blant pangas in Kibera.
Folks, such has been the hate of the ‘man with the foreskin’. He has been called dirty, coward, kihii, unmanly, childish and in some extreme instances, evil. The ‘man with the foreskin’ has been denied his rightful place at board meetings, staff meetings and other social gatherings where he must not ‘sit in the presence of men’. The fully grown 'man with the foreskin' has been set aside to converse with his 'age mates' at the children’s table.
So here we are today and Luos are getting circumcised from left and right. With this simple voluntary act of health, THE GRANDEUR OF CULTURAL CIRCUMCISION HAS BEEN DYMYSTIFIED. How else will you ridicule and put down the ‘man with the foreskin’ if he no longer has a foreskin? Do you see the social and political implications here? How will you teach your children to pronounce a hateful word that no longer has meaning? And what happens to the ego brought about by undergoing the cut? What happens to the notion that my community is the better because we circumcise our men and women? This is what I’m saying, when you are culturally preprogrammed to put the ‘man with the foreskin’ in the dustbin, do you easily accept him when he cuts it off?
If circumcision liberates the Luo men from the yokes of hate and avails them an opportunity to be seen and accepted as men, does it also institute a powerful object of fear? You are all aware of the ‘white fear’ that denied the black man in America an opportunity to vote and attend desegregated schools. Just like the Luo, the black men in America have been called monkeys, black devils and consequently hang on trees until dead….simply because of the color of their skin. In Kenya, male high school students 'with the foreskin’ have been beaten to death. They are not allowed to shower in the same bathroom with the circumcised…instead they have to take a bath alongside the schools' fence….in full view of the fellow students in the neighboring girls high school…..after all they are all ‘women’.
Well, as we have seen so far, both the Luo in Kenya and in the USA have and will successfully win the presidential elections respectively.
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