The Kenya National Theatre in Nairobi on Friday lived up to its literal name: a theatre, when nearly 130 men turned up for vasectomies.
Nearly 150 men have had the procedure — which is reversible after 10 years — since Monday as part of preparations for World Vasectomy Day marked on Friday.
Some of the men came all the way from Kwale, Kericho, Gatundu and Marsabit.
The vasectomy was free and will also be available on Saturday at the same venue.
The men, some below 30 but the majority over 40, sat quietly in the back stage at the theatre waiting their turn for the life-changing procedure.
There was barely space on the long benches as men in suits and T-shirts filled them up as soon as one stood up to face the doctors.
The procedure was being carried out on the elevated stage behind a translucent plastic wall that showed the shadowy figures so that people could “witness the simplicity of the procedure” said the Kenyan organiser, Mr Sennah Akoi.
The barely 10 minute non-hormonal procedure was done by seven international doctors.
Mr Elikah Kevin, 36, a father of three, underwent the procedure on Friday and in less than 15 minutes, walked out with a brown paper bag filled with drugs and pamphlets of post-vasectomy information, satisfaction etched across his face.
He told the Nation: “After seeing what the hormonal family planning methods have done to my wife’s health, I chose vasectomy”.
He drove himself off unfettered.
According Mr Akoi, the event was marked in Kenya because “it is the cradle of mankind”.
“What better place to do the family planning procedure than here? Men need to take charge of family planning as a show of love for their wives,” he said.
World Vasectomy Day founder Dr Jonathan Stack was at the event. He has been in the country for about two-and-a-half months mobilising men to turn up.
“It is not for everybody but for persons who know their family is complete. Be the man, stand up and do it. Maybe there are risks and you are afraid but vasectomy is nothing compared to the risks women take every day,” he said.
He added that while the procedure can be reversed, this would be more expensive than a vasectomy.
“It is a much more complex procedure and most importantly, it’s not guaranteed to succeed. In other words, don’t get a vasectomy as a temporary form of birth control. It’s not,” he clarified.
There are only about 10 vasectomists in Kenya, posing a challenge for widespread vasectomy, according to one of them, Dr Charles Ochieng’, who is also the founder of Winam Safe Parenthood Initiative.
He says while demand for this family planning method is increasing, many other men shied away for various reasons, myths and superstitions and fear that it is castration that may affect their sex life.
In 2013, only 0.1 per cent of African men had undergone the procedure.