They say the elders play a critical role in the decision-making process in every community because of their hierarchical position in those communities. In some communities, they are regarded as the custodians of the culture while in others we see them as wise men who advise and provide wisdom to the younger generation and society.
FGM is a deeply rooted cultural practice among some communities in Kenya. This calls for the engagement of the elders from FGM practicing communities.
In that regard, the Anti-FGM Board hosted over 100 elders from the four clans of the Kuria community in a roundtable dialogue in September at Nyabikongori Primary School in Nyabasi West, Kuria East, Migori County.
Anti-FGM Board Programmmes Manager, Nyerere Kutwa informed the elders that the dialogue aimed to cascade the President’s directive to end FGM by 2022.
“We are here because of the directive issued by the President that FGM must end by 2022 and we know that you the elders play a vital role in making a declaration against some cultural practices such as FGM,” he said.
He urged the elders to have a sober discussion on how FGM can be eliminated in Kuria by suggesting the best approaches that the Board can use in implementing the directive of the President especially in Kuria where the prevalence of FGM stands at 86% against the national prevalence of 21%.
Chinato Division, Assistant County Commissioner, Mr. Kelvin Leo lauded the move by the Board to engage the Kuria elders whom he termed as owners of the culture among the Kuria community. He called upon the elders to seek an alternative rite of passage for girls since the practice of FGM is illegal in Kenya and the as administration, they will implement the order by the President.
“Our duty as the foot soldiers of the President on the ground is to implement his orders, so I am urging you all the elders from the four clans of the Kuria community to seek an alternative rite of passage for girls because FGM is illegal,” he said.
While presenting outcomes of the meeting, Mr. Daniel Omare noted that elders have requested for a robust clan-based dialogue that will be chaired by the chairmen of the four clans that include, Abagumbe, Abanyabasi, Abakira, and Abairege.
On June 4, 2019, while attending the Women Deliver Conference in Vancouver, Canada, President Uhuru Kenyatta made his first commitment to end FGM by 2022. He later reaffirmed the commitment on November 8, 2019, at State House in Nairobi, a move supported by both cultural elders and religious leaders who signed a commitment to end FGM by 2022.