The Principal Secretary in the State Department of Culture and Heritage in the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage Ms Josephta Mukobe has urged communities in Counties in the former Western province and Trans Nzoia County to shelve the circumcision season this year. The Bukusu, Tachoni, Batura, Banyala had already planned to circumcise their boys this year, but the Covid-19 pandemic has distorted those and many other plans. “Now, we are doing things according to the times. Covid-19 has affected the whole world and we’ve been told not to congregate, if you do that there is a danger of infection,” she said.
Speaking during a interview with West FM on Friday, PS Mukobe said holding the circumcision ceremonies now will mean putting the lives of the initiates at risk, “I support those who say we postpone. Even if it’s held next year, these boys aren’t running away.” She said those who will defy the government’s directive on avoiding large gatherings will face the law. The Bukusu and Tachoni elders have already directed that the ceremony won’t happen this year, however, circumcisers have already met more than once in initiation ceremonies to push on with plans ahead of August.
Moreover, she has urged residents of Western to adhere to Ministry of Health Covid-19 regulations, “We are the people of Mulembe, we like being together, but now we should keep the guidelines.” With boys’ circumcision a prominent cultural practice in Western, some people may start drifting from it, owing to increased technology access and Westernization, leading to adoption of archaic trends, and the PS acknowledged this is an issue, “Nowadays people don’t keep the values we had in the past, they follow Western vices…it’s key that we maintain the fundamental lessons we learnt naturally. If we let go of those, then the society will become more corrupted.”
She recounted the important role religion played in bringing people together and cultivating the spirit of love and respect. The PS also pointed out the importance of national heritage sites, saying they play a key role in boosting tourism. In Western Kenya, the crying stone in Kakamega is a key figure of attention, “We also have the Kakamega forest, which has a variety of animal species,” she added. On the pertinent issue of compensation for communities whose cultures have been used elsewhere, she said parliament is yet to give out a clear legislation on the was toward. However, she said compensation in terms of money isn’t allowed in some parts of the world, “Internationally, we have laws that say you don’t compensate with money, but take up the social responsibility option like building schools or hospitals for the community.”