Rev Timothy Njoya: A woman's clitoris should be where God put it

Rev Dr Timothy Njoya

My mother, Wandia, was the first Kikuyu girl to escape circumcision.

She aborted the circumcision ceremony scheduled by the Kikuyu Councils of Elders for all boys of her riika (age group) aged between 17 and 21 years and girls aged between eight and 15 years.

In some cultures, cutting the clitoris and the foreskin is a relic of cannibalism and human sacrifice. In the Israelite religion, Abraham sealed his land covenant with Yahweh by sacrificing his own foreskin and that of his son Ishmael (Genesis 17:9-14&23-27).

Dowry market

Among the Agikuyu, the purpose for circumcising ir?g? (girls or raw materials) was to make them property, wives and mothers, worth liquor, cattle and goats in the dowry market.

It was taboo for girls to reach menstruation, have sex or get married without circumcision. So, on that fateful morning of January 5, 1925, my mother fled to the Tumutumu Church of Scotland mission in search of asylum and education.

Wandia believed in her selfhood as the essence of being human, free and sovereign, and for which God sacrificed Jesus Christ. Her selfhood began as a being itself, in itself and for itself: life sui generis. Her selfhood was therefore the fountainhead of truth, dignity and destiny. She could not therefore let her culture block her path towards realising her selfhood. Instead of becoming a victim of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), she risked her life to keep her clitoris where God fixed it as a symbol of the human likeness with God. Wandia inter-networked the divinity of her clitoris with the “resurrection of the body and the life everlasting (Apostles’ Creed).” She therefore made her rendezvous with destiny by committing herself to save her clitoris from kleitoris necrosis (clitoricide or clitoris mass killing) because it smacked of paedophilia, child trafficking, infanticide and femicide.

In 2001, the Kenyan Parliament outlawed FGM, but without first outlawing the fact that clitoricide came into existence as human sacrifice and to make women accessories for men to become rulers and self-breeding machines.

Ignored the ban

The Missionary Alliance banned clitoridectomy in 1913 and 1918, but the African converts ignored the ban until January 1925 when Wandia mutinied against her scheduled circumcision ceremony and triggered the Kikuyu mass rebellion which sunk the British Empire.

When in 1983 President Moi decreed FGM an illegal practice, the Councils of Elders annulled his decree because it trespassed on their cultural jurisdiction. But in regard to the 2001 ban on FGM, certain Churches and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) devised the Alternative Rites of Passage (ARPs) as a conflict resolution mechanism to satisfy both the law and African culture. The churches and NGOs therefore concocted the Alternative Rites of Passage as tools for processing the mental, spiritual and sexual image of girls from raw materials to fit into the stereotypical image of women as men’s property which smacks of the same paedophilia, child trafficking, infanticide and femicide that is rooted within FGM.

Christian family

In almost all the many Alternative Rites of Passage programmes that I attended at the invitation of the churches and NGOs between 2002 and 2013, none didn’t teach girls to save the African dowry ceremony and Christian family from the threat by the gains made by the feminist liberation during the last decades of the 20th century.

Hence, advocates of Alternative Rites of Passage seem to believe that there was need for circumcising girls to become wives, mothers and men’s property, and that need could be served by Alternative Rites of Passage. At one workshop sponsored by a certain church in its primary school, it was clear that the Church performed the alternative FGM on the hearts, souls and minds of the girls by mutilating their ambitions to become responsible providers, protectors and owners in a social context where 45 per cent of the families are female-headed.

Desire your husband

It does no good to tell potential female presidents that, “Man is the head of the wife (Ephesians 5:23),” and that, “The Lord said to the woman, you will suffer terribly when you give birth. But you will still desire your husband and he will rule over you (Genesis 3:16).

“Or that women must make themselves beautiful by putting their husbands first because, for example, Sarah obeyed Abraham and called him her master (1 Peter 3:5-6).”

What they don’t tell the girls is the action to take if their husbands were to behave like Abraham who shielded himself from danger by exposing his wife to rape by claiming that Sarah “is my sister (Genesis 12:12-20; 20:2).” Like father like son, Isaac exposed his wife Rebekah to rape by saying “she is my sister (Genesis 26:7).”

Girls are born human, not to become alternative girls. In fact, the only alternative to FGM is to give circumcisers and mutilators constructive rehabilitation and better ways to make money. Don’t imprison them. They are victims of mkosa mila ni mtumwa!

— The writer, a holder of a PhD from Princeton University, USA, is a retired senior Presbyterian cleric, human rights defender and Executive Director of Men for the Equality of Men and Women (MEW).