Samburu and Kilifi elders exchange ideas on how to end negative cultural practices

The Samburu elders’ committee on sensitization against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and child marriage today held a virtual exchange meeting with the Kaya elders of Kilifi County on how to end negative cultural practices in their respective communities.

The talks which were facilitated by the Kenya-Finland Bilateral program dwelled on the Samburu elders highlighting their successes and efforts in implementing the historic March 2022 Kisima declaration signed in the presence of retired president Uhuru Kenyatta affirming their commitment to end FGM and early marriages in Samburu County.

During the exchange, the elders representing the nine clans of the Samburu tribe said that they recognised that FGM and early marriages are a violation of women and girls’ human rights, with negative physical and psychological consequences.

The elders emphasized their commitment to ending harmful cultural practices through creating awareness against GBV in the community and promoting education for the girl child.

The Samburu elders discussed with their Kaya counterparts that they are the custodians of their respective cultures and it’s their duty to protect and guide community members from outdated cultures and into prosperity.

“We appreciate the role and contribution of our women and girls when they are empowered and protected from harmful cultural practices and we affirm our commitment to work with the government to eliminate FGM and child marriage in our community.” Said Purkeet Lenaltulei an elder representing the Lgwesi clan of Samburu.

However, the Samburu elders noted that the ceremony that accompanies a girl’s initiation into womanhood is very important since blessings are bestowed on her and her future family.

“While we also don’t want to ignore the important cultural milestones of our girls, we lifted the curse which was bestowed on uncircumcised girls and as traditional gatekeepers, we blessed all the girls that have not undergone FGM and they will not undergo it in the future,” said Lemarkat Lejimoi of the Nyaparae clan.

Kenya Finland Bilateral program Coordinator in Samburu County Josephine Lengopito said that the program which is funded by MFA Finland is implementing the prevention and awareness-raising on Gender Based Violence (GBV) in three counties of Samburu, Bungoma and Kilifi.

She noted that Samburu county has various forms of GBV which has attracted international attention such as FGM, beading, child marriage, child labour among others adding that some of them are deeply entrenched in culture.

“To eradicate these vices there is need to impart behavioral change by constantly creating awareness against these forms of GBV in the society including inter-generational community dialogues which needs a lot of patience, advocacy and dialogue,” she said.

The virtual exchange meeting between the Samburu and Kaya elders coincides with the beginning of 16 days of activism against GBV which begins from 25th November to 10th December 2022.