Samburu elders have declared Samburu County as a Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) free county by signing a declaration that will see them spearhead the fight against FGM and early marriages.
The elders from the nine clans of the Samburu converged at the culturally holy Kisima grounds to sign and bless the historical declaration which was attended by President Uhuru Kenyatta on 5th March 2021.
Speaking after signing the declaration, Samburu council of elders’ spokesperson Matthew Neepe said that the journey began in 2018 when men started being involved in the fight against FGM and early marriages in the community.
He said that apart from FGM being illegal, it poses physical and psychological effects on girls and after being engaged by various stakeholders on the negative impacts they have decided that time to come up with an alternative rite of passage was now.
“We are the custodians of our culture and we have unanimously decided that from now on our girls will go through the right of passage as usual but without the cut and shedding of blood.” The elder said.
Neepe also noted that the elders have lifted the age-old curse put upon uncircumcised girls which hinders them from getting married, having children, or being recognized in cultural ceremonies.
Nine elders each representing the nine Samburu clans signed the declaration to end FGM and early marriages while Samburu governor Moses Lenolkulal signed on behalf of the county government and Cabinet Secretary for Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs Prof. Margaret Kobia signed the document on behalf of the national government.
Viola Ruto, Samburu Amref anti-FGM coordinator said that the dialogue journey with Samburu elders started in Samburu east in 2018 as a way of finding an alternative but lasting solution to FGM and early marriages.
“As a start, we were directed to the community’s sacred Mt Ng’iro where the welders were very receptive and we were further sent to the six mountains of Samburu county that are Ndoto, Ng’iro, Loroki, Marsabit, Wamba, and mount Kula. Together with the Ati-FGM board, we engaged the elders in structured, respectful, and fruitful dialogue that has brought us to this day.” Ruto said.
We are also engaging and supporting the reformed female circumcisers on how to earn alternative sources of income like poultry and goat keeping that does well in this region.
On his part, Samburu county governor Moses Lenolkulal said that FGM might not stop immediately after the elders’ declaration but said it’s a process that will involve women, youth, and leaders with the blessings of customary elders.
“As an alternative rite of passage for our girls, the county government will offer a full scholarship for any student who scores 350 marks and above and for those who will score a mean grade of A’ in KCSE,” Lenolkulal said.