Bukusu elders postpone male circumcision events to 2022

Monday June 22 2020

Initiates carrying bells in Eldoret town in 2018. This year's exercise has been postponed due to Covid-19. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Elders from western region have postponed this year’s traditional circumcision exercises due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The rite of passage usually takes place every even year in the months of July, August and December.

The government banned all public gatherings to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Speaking to the Press yesterday in Bungoma County, the elders drawn from the Bukusu, Tachoni, Batura and Sabaot communities said that this year is jinxed and full of bad omen.

The elders led by Bukusu council of elders chairman Richard Walukano said that the decision was agreed upon following the Covid-19 Pandemic that has claimed many lives globally.



Mr Richard said that the decision is not new to the community as it has also been done before in the past by elders.

“This is not the first time we are doing this since it also happened in 1930s when we had an outbreak of a serious disease in the country and also in the 1960s when we had civil wars,” he said.

The chairman said that if anyone going against the directive by the elders risks bringing a curse and a bad omen to his son.

Tachoni elder Wekesa Wasilwa said that as a much as postponing the rite would have ramifications on generational naming or generations and the age of the next group that would be cut, they had no option.

Bungoma chairman of circumcisers Sinino Wo Omukolongolo said elders agreed that there are many activities that accompany the festival and would expose residents to the virus.

“We usually have merry-making that involves close interaction while taking local brew, singing and dancing that have been banned by the Ministry of Health,” he said.


Mr Omukolongolo asked parents who wanted their children circumcises to wait till 2022.

“We shall have our elders slaughtering a goat and looking at its intestines to fully predict how these things will be unfolding this year,” he said.

The elder warned anyone who might go against the decision that action will be taken against him.

Mr Omukolongolo said that a specific name is usually given to a generation/age-set.

The last circumcision took place in 2018. Generations or age-sets are named after every ceremony.

The Bukusu circumcision is one of Kenya’s most-anticipated traditional ceremonies and attracts more than 40,000 tourists, both local and foreign.

During the ritual, an initiate travels to his maternal uncle’s ho0me, where a ceremony is held during which a bull is slaughtered.

He is given some of the meat to carry home.

The next day, he is taken to the river in the wee hours of the morning where his entire body is smeared with mud and on return he is circumcised at the gate facing west.

Several Luhya leaders led by Bungoma governor Wycliffe Wangamati have also expressed their concern over the highly ancipated fate that has been blocked by the pandemic.