Kenyan elders publicly circumcise 27 boys

© Noor Khamis
Twenty-seven boys were victims of male genital mutilation during a public ceremony in Kasarani, Kenya this week.

Kikuyu elders said they organized the traditional circumcision ceremony in an effort to save their culture.

Wachira Kiago, chairman of the Council of Elders, said: "We as elders are saving our community by publicly carrying out customs so the culture may be not lost."

Speaking before the ceremony, Kiago said the council wanted to bring Kikuyu cultural values back. Boys have been circumcised through the church, but it is also a Kikutu tradition.

The chairman said members of the community were born Kikuyu first before they became Christians.

The traditional initiation ceremony is said to teach boys how to grow into responsible citizens, refrain from bad habits, and behave with respect and unity.

The elders also offer counseling on alcohol, drugs, and sexuality.

"We will have professional doctors, traditional counselors, and religious leaders," Kiago said before the ceremony.

© Noor Khamis

The ceremony is the most important in Kikuyu culture, signifying adulthood and responsibility. Without circumcision, it is believed a boy will never become a man and cannot get married.

Male circumcision in Kenya is widely practiced and carries less stigma - unlike female circumcision, which has been widely criticized.

Finland’s Ombudsman for Children announced in October that he wants his country to ban non-medical circumcisions for all underage boys, which received criticism from the Nordic country’s Jewish community.

Male circumcisions can go very wrong. In July, 14 boys died in South Africa after botched circumcision ceremonies. Six South African men are awaiting penis transplants after their circumcisions didn’t go as planned.

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A 13-year-old boy in Kenya had all of his penis accidentally chopped off last year during a Bukusu circumcision ceremony.

In August, seven boys in Kenya’s Kitui County suffered injuries after circumcisions carried out in a hospital left them with swollen and disfigured penises. The boys were all aged four and five.