Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Where circumcision is a must

This is a common story, every even year among the Bagisu, a tribe on the Uganda/ Kenya border. A man tries to dodge the tribal ritual of circumcision by running off to the City and adopting himself, hopefully, into another tribe to avoid the painful rite of passage. Problem is, the tribe has the right to find runaways and forcefully circumcising them thus turning them into men. Latest studies show that this tribe is one of the two least affected by AIDS. So there seems to be a correlation between circumcision and fighting AIDS successfully which has given this tribe even more steam to enforce the practise. Its only done to men in this case. They don't circumcise women and never have.
So what happens is they trace you wherever you are, whisk you away and do the needful then set you free. They will get you at any age, they know who you are and you can run but can never hide with in the region. So to avoid the embarrassment, most males oblige and do it in their teens. A few think they can beat the system. This is a tribe of about 2 million people with numerous clans. Even without official records, they know who has been circumcised and who hasn't. Its unbelievable. I wrote off marrying into that tribe because I would never want my sons to go through that. Any way here is the somewhat hilarious story.

By Ronnie Kijjambu

Traffic on Nasser and Nkrumah roads came to a stand-still when an elderly UPC veteran from Mbale, Stephen Mujoroto, was “arrested” by five youth for allegedly dodging imbalu (the Bagisu cultural circumcision rite).

Mujoroto, who is a staunch UPC supporter and former Nsangi sub-county chief in the Obote Two regime, was seized at the Canaan Restaurant on Uganda House at about 11:00am.

Well-built youth, one of them believed to be Mujoroto’s son, held him by the trousers when they identified him chatting away with colleagues.

Sensing danger, the group fled, thinking the Kampala City law enforcers were arresting criminals.

But after the youth explained their mission, Mujoroto’s colleagues allowed them to take him to sort out the “tribal affair”.

Mujoroto’s pretence to be weak and unable to walk did not save him. The youth lifted him into a special hire taxi and took him to Nsambya to face the circumcision knife.

His friends at the scene later said the group had been hunting for Mujoroto the previous day, but on a tip-off, he hid for the whole day.

A youth said to be his son argued that problems had afflicted their family, which he blamed on their father’s refusal to be circumcised.

He said they had sent several emissaries, including his elder sisters, to persuade him to circumcise to no avail.

The helpless Mujoroto opted to dodge photographers. Most of his friends had known him to be a Muganda. After his arrest, a crowd that gathered blamed Mujoroto for having sex for such a long time without being circumcised