Female Circumcision Among the Abagusii of Kenya
Female Circumcision among the Abagusii of Kenya captures the traditional role of women initiation and associated rites of passage among the Abagusii community. The journey to womanhood was deemed incomplete without circumcision (“the cut”), a tradition practiced Abagusii for many centuries. Yet even in the face of knowledge and understanding of the harmful effects of “the cut”, the majority of Abagusii, like many other communities that practice the rite, still sticks to the old practice, mainly because of taboos and societal acceptance. The author details women initiation in Gusii, discusses efforts to end the practice and outlines an Alternative Rite of Passage that doesn’t involve “the cut”. He further suggests a practical approach to the alternative rite of passage via workshops, and advocacy of churches, administration and opinion leaders in the community.
This work is useful reading for those that wish to understand how initiation rites of passage impacted individuals. It is a good reference for social scientists, development partners, government and social change agents that seek to understand and design ways in which initiation can be actualized without harming the initiates.
What others Say
“The author was born and raised in Gusii where Female Genital Mutilation is rampant and has resisted change. He has given in this book first-hand information on what Female Cut is, its origin, how it is done in Gusii and he has given an alternative rite of passage into womanhood without the cut which is an integral section in the book. The book is an achievement by the author as well as all Kenyans who do not support female circumcision like me.” – Hon. Linah Jebii Kilimo (Mrs.) M.P, Marakwet East, Minister of State Office of the Vice President and Ministry of Regional Development.
“The book is a good reference material for Social Scientists, Researchers, Human Rights campaigners and for Anti Female Genital Mutilation supporters. The author clearly states in his book that he does not support Female Cut but his grandmother sees no reason to stop it since she was and most women in her community have undergone the enduring ritual. This family division makes me ask the last question: ‘would you really like yours daughters not to be circumcised?’ ” – Marc Lacey, Director and Correspondent of New York Times.
“The book reading committee of the Seventh Day Adventist Church recommended this book to be used in all meetings, seminars and workshops in Nyamira Conference and beyond. The book has relevant and accurate notes about the current traditional and cultural practices of Abagusii people as a whole. It details the side effects of the Female Cut; it further proposes the Alterative Rite of Passage into womanhood without “the cut”, an idea that we have employed in our churches. I grew up in Christian background hence I was not exposed to Abagusii traditions of circumcision and its rituals. The book lays out clearly what happened in such ceremonies in a coherent and flowing manner.
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