Bamasaaba Chief Minister calls for inclusive response in cultural attitudes in curbing HIV/AIDS
Written by Timothy Makokha
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The Inzu Ya Masaaba King Wilson Wamimbi Umukuuka being welcomed by his Deputy Chief Minister Umukoosi Dr. George Masafu during the Masaaba retreat in Uganda. [Photo | Timothy Makokha]
To achieve the maximum effectiveness of educational efforts on HIV and AIDS, holistic approaches are required along a continuum from prevention to treatment, care and support according to the Dr. George Masafu, the Deputy Chief Minister of the Inzu Ya Masaaba.
Addressing members of the community during the Bamasaaba retreat at Mbale Tourist Resort in Uganda on “the cultural approaches to behavior change in the prevention of HIV/Aids among Bamasaaba community’’ he said it was prudent for the community to be educated on matters of culture and how it influences development among the community both in Kenya and Uganda.
He mentioned circumcision as the foundation of culture among the Bamasaaba people which indoctrinate the male sexual behavior throughout life imparted in form of allegories and idioms (Lubito).
“The essence of Lubito is to prove their virility. The sex and family life information imparted by elders is thus geared towards encouraging promiscuity in the newly circumcised males as a sign of their virility," he said.
He pointed out rampant polygamy and multiple sexual partners as a direct consequence of Lubito which results into the fundamental cause of HIV/Aids in Bungoma District.
Dr. Masafu explained that any attempt to combat HIV/Aids and other sexually transmitted diseases must turn round this constraint of culture and ethnicity to achieve behavior change in the target youth group. A factor he said requires the initiative of all the people to be curbed.
“It is impossible to break through the communication barrier unless these stakeholders are in the management of cultural re-engineering,” he said.
He mentioned how cultural beliefs add up to the spread of HIV saying because of taboos elders tend to fear discussing sexual matters with the youths. Traditional beliefs that some diseases and illnesses, HIV included are man-made or spiritually induced which are common in the community also results to more infections.
“It is time for traditional circumcisers to learn and apply HIV/Aids prevention measures,” he said.
Elders who are the agents of lubito were implored to know and apply HIV/Aids prevention measures. He called upon teachers, government and church officials to support the project campaign as well.
Past campaigns against HIV aids and safe sex education have had little or no impact vis-à-vis the traditional Bukusu culture. The cultural messages are binding as opposed to the contents and methods of modern campaigns.
For instance he mentioned the importance of ‘circumcisers’ to avoid sexual immorality during the circumcision season. He also called upon circumcisers to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and apply the sterile dust to maintain hygiene.
This being the year when Bamasaaba are planning to initiate their male children, he urged those involved in composing, singing and dancing circumcision songs to include HIV/aids messages.
“The circumcision dances should begin after schools have closed to allow children to complete the school term”, he said. He also advised that ample lighting should be provided during circumcision dances at night to avoid promiscuity. He as well advised Kadodi dancers in Uganda to be careful as such dances encourage immorality.