THE BEAT OF THE DRUM



Falling asleep to the beat of the drum. 

Waking up to the rhythmic chanting of men, women, and children parading through the streetsafter partying all night. 



If I had to choose one month a year to leave Kenya, it would be now.

August is the official circumcision season in Kenya, specifically in the area I live in which is in Western Kenya. (Bukusuland) Young boys between the ages of 12-14 years old prepare themselves for one of the most respected and popular occasions around this time of year. Not only is circumcision a debatable matter to begin with, but this “right of passage to become a man,” takes it to a whole new level when I read that the knife used for one boy can be used for ten others! Chances are high that some viruses including HIV could be easily transmitted from one child to another. The Bukusu style of circumcision has been very controversial, and many Christians and other religions see it as being pure evil. The night before a boy is to be initiated is packed with excessive drinking, and smoking pot. Women socialize freely with men, and even married women commit adultery on this day because the culture allows it. Reportedly, in any given season, at least 20 school aged girls will get pregnant in a village.

According to Bukusu oral tradition, this all began because of the bravest man who ever lived named Mwiabwa Mango. Centuries ago he single-handedly killed a serpent that had been terrorizing the Bukusu village. When asked what could be done for his commemoration, he demanded his foreskin be removed. And ever since, Mango decreed that in order for a young man to become an adult he must undergo circumcision.

I will end with sharing an unusual news article that I read from the Kenyan Daily Post. Basically 12 men underwent forceful circumcision this month, after their wives were gossiping in the community about their husbands personal matters. The men, mostly drivers, were circumcised in the middle of the road with no option of anesthesia. These men were all given Sh. 3,000 for treatment and meals to heal faster. (I assume from the local authorities, the article did not say.) Meanwhile, over 50 uncircumcised men living in that area are all camping out at the police station.

I must admit that this tradition disturbs me greatly, and I ask that prayers be lifted up for this country. It also makes me realize, that if any culture does something enough, after time, it can easily become the norm.

With Love,

Natasha

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