So called female genital mutilation (FGM) – the continuing vuvuzela

Dr. Sama Banya – Puawui

The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 July 2014

londonSome years ago, I read a humorous story in a British newspaper about a New Zealander who had lived in Britain for many years, who then suddenly decided to return home.

When asked about his reason for leaving an adopted country that he confessed to have come to love, his answer was simple: “When I arrived here some years back, homosexual act was a criminal offense that carried a jail sentence. Then the government set up the Wolfenden Commission to look into prostitution and other social offenses. The government accepted the Commission’s recommendation that homosexual act between consenting adults must no longer be a crime.”

He said he was now leaving Britain, before a law came into force, which would make homosexual act compulsory.

We may laugh at the humour, but the West has gone a very long way in encouraging something which, even the Holy Bible condemns as an unnatural act.

Homosexual marriages have been legalized in both Europe and the United States of America. What is even more detestable is that, not only are gay couples eligible for social benefits – but are allowed to adopt children as well.

gay marriageI wonder whether the legislators have bothered to reflect on the ultimate effect of that policy, on children.

A gay bishop has been ordained in an Episcopal Church in the United States.

The same “advanced” Western countries are putting undue pressure on African countries, through blackmail and threats to withhold development assistance, should such countries pass or fail to repeal laws which penalize homosexuality.

And now, they have again turned their attention on and begun a crusade against the alleged cruelty and backwardness of what they conveniently describe as ‘FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION’.

Sadly, some Sierra Leoneans for obvious reasons had earlier joined the chorus in the outcry against the traditional practice.

At the time, I took up the challenge of a young lady who went about preaching against what she called the evil practice of Female Genital Mutilation. She went on to describe over the then SLBS radio, how she had suffered mental depression and could not get employment because she had been compelled to undergo genital mutilation.

All that had actually happened was that she had had her clitoris removed.

Another Sierra Leonean woman – a Fatmata Karim, described what happened to her at age 9. But hasn’t shown any evidence of her genitalia being partially or totally removed, which as earlier stated is the definition of mutilation.

Bondo societySeveral years ago, while we were listening to the ‘bla bla’ on female genital mutilation in the Miatta Conference Centre, the speaker’s voice was drowned by drumming, singing and dancing; it was “Sampa” and the Mende masked Bondo devil of the women’s ‘Sande’ society leading a crowd of joyful women on their way down to the Congo valley stream to do their thing.

I know that some Sierra Leoneans have joined the so called FGM campaign purely for money, while others are being granted refugee status in western countries for their alleged suffering.

On Wednesday July 23, the British Prime Minister David Cameron, opened a global conference in London to discuss strategies for putting an end to practices which he said “are standing rebukes to our world, in our generation.”

Bondo3He was referring to early child marriages and female genital mutilation. But I can’t wait to read the communiqué that must have emanated from that conference.

In its 2013 report, UNICEF gives the figures for FGM for Guinea as 97%, Sierra Leone 90% and Liberia 66%.

So what is Female Genital Mutilation or FGM, to which term they now add ‘Cutting’, in an attempt to clumsily replace the meaningless expression – FGM.

According to their definition; it “includes the partial or total removal of the female genitalia.”

Bondo2I have only one question for the self styled do-gooder campaigners against our legitimate cultural and social practice: Is this what prevails in Sierra Leone?

A few weeks ago, I challenged one of my own professional colleagues on the promise of joining their crusade, to provide a single evidence of female genital mutilation of an initiate into our women’s secret society.

Some of these people would be well advised to seek other avenues of getting international funding, or regularising their immigration status in western countries, rather than using our long traditional practice as a source of satisfying their greed and self-interest.

 

6 Comments

  1. At last we are beginning to speak up. Why should the west interfere in our culture and tradition?

    This bondo practice has been going on for centuries and is here to stay. They already think that they are the superior race and whatever they do is right.

    But in a way you can not blame them. You should blame our greedy sisters who go on TV and radio for few dollars only to bring down their own people. I am a full member of a bondo society and I am very proud of it.

    It is time we tell the west not to interfere in our tradition and culture. I would really want to know how Bondo is affecting them.

  2. @ Tom. You are missing the woods for the trees! Firstly, i am not branding Puawui as a “FGM denier(s)” to quote your exact phrase.

    He is not denying anything, but rather justifying the practice of FGM only on cultural/traditional grounds.

    Nobody is condemning the BONDO Society as a rite of passage, except for the “cutting” of underage (below 18yrs) girls. You will agree with me that one can have tea/coffee plain without sugar/milk.

    Secondly, Puawui is a (perpetual) “denier” of national election results that are not in the favour of his dearly-beloved SLPP. Reference his post “The APC party and their electoral malpractices” on 22nd July, 2014.

    Such malpractices are not carried out only by the APC in Sierra Leone. In the 1996 general elections, which the SLPP under the leadership of Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabbah won, Dr James Jonah (former UN under Secretary-General for Political Affairs), a Sierra Leonean who conducted those elections and was later appointed Finance Minister, had to deal with issues of electoral malpractices. The poor gentleman had to publicly subtract votes from the results in Pujehun because of over-voting by SLPP voters!

  3. Why must the choice of female circumcision be made above 18 years only?

    As far as I know, male circumcision occurs mainly below the age of 1 year.

    The choice is made by their parents and no one complains. Maybe we should start a debate on ‘MGM’ – Male Genital Mutilation.

    Please leave parents to decide what is good for their young daughters.

    • @ Cecilia. The topic is about FGM not male circumcision. Please lets stick to the former. As far as male circumcision is concerned, there is considerable research suggesting that it helps to prevent the spread of STD (aids).

  4. Jerry, you do sound like one of those who would proffer a worldwide legislation that will brand the likes of Dr. Banya and billions of people across the world as ‘FGM deniers’. But that will never happen thank God.

    Who declared homosexuality a human rights issue? The UN?

    The UN and governments in western nations cannot become custodians of our moral conscience. Religion, the Holy Scriptures of all Faiths shall continue to nurture and guide the moral fibre of all God fearing people of the World.

    It is a disgrace that governments in the west can cherry pick those values laid down for the moral wellbeing and sustainability of humanity by the scriptures, while tearing others, such as that which forbids homosexuality.

    We in Africa are saying NO to homosexuality.

    But should you choose to become a homo then good luck and leave Dr. Banya alone to continue to express his God given right.

    Regarding our Bondo tradition you are criticising, the least said the better. Bondo has been around for centuries and is here to stay. So, are you going off now to the UN to have me declared a FGM denier? Go ahead Jerry!!

  5. Puawui is cleverly twisting the argument. The choice to undergo FGM must be made by an adult-18yrs and above, period!

    Those innocent little girls on the photo must not be subjected to cruelty in the name of “traditional practice”.

    Also, these days sexuality is a human rights issue. Nothing is written in stone, traditional practice notwithstanding.

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