Breaking the norm: The Iteso community slowly embracing circumcision.
Written by Frankline Bwire
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A 67 year old man’s long time dream to undergo circumcision came true recently when he got the ‘cut’ in a Teso hospital during a Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision campaign organized by the Ministry of Health and the Nyanza Reproductive Health Society.Fabian Otogo a father of 11 and a resident of Okame location Teso South district opines that the rite is in a way meant to cleanse him spiritually and to emulate the biblical Abraham, whom he says was circumcised at an advanced stage for spiritual nourishment.
The 67 year old says his decision to get circumcised has nothing to do with sexuality but long term dream to be cleansed spiritually. Photos | Frankline Bwire
"My decision to get circumcised has nothing to do with sexuality but purely a long term dream to be cleansed spiritually despite the exercise targeting males aged 15-49 years…Circumcision was never practised in my (Iteso) community hence I saw this a Godsend opportunity for me to realize this life-long desire to become a ‘full man’ before my creator,” he said.
The rite of passage to adulthood among the Iteso since the days of the ancestors, he says was determined by one’s ability to cultivate and harvest grains enough to fill a Granary.
This was to prove that a young man had become of age and was ripe to ask for someone’s daughter for marriage.
“The opportunity to get the cut availed itself when the ministry of health started a circumcision campaign in our region, I seized the chance to be among the first to benefit from this exercise and so I went to Lukolis health centre to get circumcised,” he explains.
The rite of passage to adulthood among the Iteso, included the ability to cultivate and harvest grains enough to fill a Granary, according to Mr Otogo.
Otogo says he got information of the circumcision exercise at Obekai market when some health workers made public appeal to womenfolk at the market to encourage their husbands to go out and get cut as a way of containing the spread of AIDS scourge in the area.
He further urges the youth to take advantage of the exercise not only for purposes of lowering the risk of contracting HIV/Aids but also for spiritual gain.
Bernard Otwane, Otogo’s age-mate says he too braved the knife as a role model to the young, who he wants to inspire to embrace change.
Otwane adds that “This is a trend that should be followed by all men especially as the country is fighting the HIV/Aids pandemic”.
According to the District Aids and STIs coordinator Risper Odhiambo, youth have continued to embrace the rite since its inception in June 2010.
She reveals that they have been able to circumcise over 9,000 men out the targeted 60,000 despite several challenges affecting the exercise amongst them staff shortage, poor road network and inadequate space for offering the Voluntary Male Circumcision.
“This is an activity that has come to help us reduce the HIV/Aids pandemic and if we can save the generation of today we will be able to have a good economy in the future,” said Odhiambo.