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Lusaka wants Bukusu circumcision fete put off due to Covid-19

Tuesday March 31 2020
Bukusu

Circumcisers perform the cut on an initiate, smeared with mud at Musikoma village in Bungoma. Bukusu circumcision takes place every two years and runs from April to December. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By BRIAN OJAMAA

Uncertainty has hit the biennial Bukusu circumcision ceremony, which was to start in April.

Already, leaders are pushing for its postponement to a later date, fearing that it could heighten the spread of Covid-19.

The Bukusu usually hold outdoor ceremonies before and after the circumcision of their young men, which attract hundreds of community members.

The event takes place every two years and runs from April to December.

Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka has already asked the Bukusu council of elders to consider postponing the ceremony.

This is after the government banned all public gatherings to combat the spread of Covid-19. On Monday, Kenya reported 50 Covid-19 cases.

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Speaking to the Nation Tuesday by phone, the former Bungoma governor expressed fears over the highly anticipated traditional ceremony following the coronavirus pandemic.

He said the scourge had disrupted businesses and programmes and that should the interruption continue, the circumcision ceremony’s organisers will have no choice but to postpone it.

“You have seen the kind of disruption this pandemic has caused in governments, institutions and cultures across the world. If it continues this way, we as the members of the Bukusu tribe will have to postpone our beloved circumcision ceremonies,” said the Speaker.

The Bukusu are Bantus and form one of the sub-tribes of the Luhya tribe.

Should the pandemic persist, the exercise will have to be postponed to the next odd year, in this case 2021.

The last time the community experienced a postponement (Sikumenya) was in 1939.

Bukusu elder Sinino Womukolongolo said the festival will be postponed.

“Such actions are taken because of outbreaks of diseases, war, uncontrollable calamities or famines,” he added.

“Our tradition requires that we conduct it during even years but there are exceptions such as war, outbreaks of diseases and other unavoidable circumstances,” Mzee Womukolongolo said.

The ceremony that is marked mainly in Trans Nzoia and Bungoma counties attracts more than 40,000 tourists, both local and foreign.

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