Imbalu (Male circumcision) in Mt. Elgon region is not a criminal enterprise. Stop demonizing this wonderful culture. Equally, stop derailing the flow of our tourism industry especially to Mt. Elgon National Park. Hear me all of you, circumcision was meant to cleanse, purify and offer passage of a Mumasaaba young boy to Manhood.
Before candidates are allowed to participate, there is a kind of Mchakamchaka (Isonja) dance where they are requested to observe body hygiene such as short nails, hair short, cloths clean, body clean, mouth clean and also physical and mental fitness, togetherness among the boys for good relations and future cooperation but not chaos like we are witnessing this year (2022)
There are several stories that talk about the origin of the culture of circumcising the male children among the Bamasaaba. One such story states as follows: – It is said and often told that one day when developing Barwa girls were playing about in their homestead, they saw smoke far off from their home, the girls then began arguing amongst themselves as to whether any of them could possibly run and reach the spot where the smoke was coming from. As the debate heated up, a girl called Nabarwa volunteered to run and reach the spot where the smoke was. So, she started running and soon disappeared from the other girls. The other girls began to wonder whether Nabarwa would ever reach the place where the smoke was and safely return home.
All the same Nabarwa had disappeared into the unknown lands. When Nabarwa went far into the unknown land, she began to think about the girls who didn’t join her in the race to see where the smoke was coming from. No sooner had Nabarwa gone too far than she met a hunter in the forest around Mt. Elgon which is also called Mt. Masaaba. She discovered that the hunter was called Fuuya the son of Mukhama who belonged to the sub clan of Bamutoto from Bungokho main clan. Fuuya was heavily armed with hunting gear and when Nabarwa saw him she was too frightened, surprisingly, Fuuya showed signs of falling in love at first sight with the woman.
The silent sign language enabled them to become friends and finally became husband and wife. As a result, Fuuya abandoned the hunting escapade and returned to Bumutoto with the new-found girl, met accidentally in the forest. As they became husband and wife, Nabarwa discovered that Fuuya was not circumcised like her tribe mates. She advised Fuuya that in order to continue in their relationship he had to accompany her home so that a ceremony to circumcise him could be arranged.
Fuuya after consulting his clans’ men agreed to undergo the circumcision to ensure that Nabarwa does not abandon him for good. Both Fuuya and Nabarwa were allowed to go to Nabarwa’s home so that Fuuya could be circumcised in accordance with the Barwa tradition. After Fuuya was circumcised, he was given a lot of presents and treated with honour such that when the wound soon be healed, a send-off party was held for both of them.
Both Fuuya and Nabarwa were declared properly married hence were allowed to return to Fuuya’s home in Bumutoto. Out of their marriage they were blessed with three children all of whom were sons. These boys were always sick. There was no cure for these children hence they continued to suffer with no known disease.
It happened that one day they received a visitor who was a brother-in-law to Fuuya. He was called Aramunyenye (Munyanya). The visitor was extremely disappointed when he noticed that his nephews were very sick and thin. He told his brother-in-law that the children were possessed because some rituals had not been performed, they were not circumcised. In order to save the children from death he suggested that the parents and clan members allow him to circumcise his nephews right away.
Fuuya and his clan members reluctantly allowed him to carry out the ritual so as to save the children’s lives.
Aramunyenye performed the circumcision successfully and the boys were nursed properly and fed on rich foods. This good treatment enabled the boys to get cured in the shortest time ever seen by Bamasaaba. When they had fully cured, the boys had also gained weight as a result of good feeding. This action pleased Fuuya and wife very much. The neighbours who had witnessed all these actions were also so happy that they subsequently adopted the circumcision ritual.
Slowly byslowly the custom spread throughout the whole nation of Bamasaaba, beginning with the sons of Wanale, the last born, followed by the sons of Mubuya and ending with the sons of Mwambu (Badadiri), the first born. From that time to date, circumcision has remained a strong bond among the Bamasaaba. The fact that Nabarwa had undergone female circumcision, it was not adopted among Bamasaaba females. Only the boys are circumcised every even year. That is why the world’s anti Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) have never had any confrontation with Bamasaaba
Nabendeh Wamoto S.P. (+256776658433)