By Mwangi Wilson Murimi
Two news features aired on NTV and KTN about the young girls beading culture among the Samburu were shocking. They unearthed the distressing plight of the girl child, especially in the largely unlettered pastoralist communities.
The fact that humiliation, mistreatment and castigation of the girl child continues in the country in this century is a clear justification that marginalization of pastoral communities must cease and such communities must be given equal access to not only formal education but also national protection from harmful cultures.
It is disquieting to come to terms with the agony that the Samburu girls undergo due to the community’s adherence to the antiquated culture of morans beading young girls to later on subject them to sexual torture.
It’s very disheartening that, girls as young as 9 years old are subjected to sexual torture by Samburu Morans with the full knowledge of the rest of the community. In fact, under the Samburu culture the mother of a beaded girl build her a hut where Moran comes to have unprotected with the girl. Even more worrisome, the same girls are treated as outcasts when they conceive under the hands of the morans.
The morans are at liberty to immediately dump the pregnant girls leaving them at the mercy of fate since the community is not willing to accept any girl who becomes a mother before undergoing the horrific Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)!
Local quacks then find an easy extortion cartel by conducting crude abortions that are not only painful but which also put the lives of the young girl at risk.
And in complete disregard of the importance of life, girls who by any chance give birth undergoing the mandatory FGM are forced to discard their babies into the bush to be feasted on by wild animals.
Ironically, the two features came on the very day when the rest of the country was celebrating the county’s heroes and heroines. It beats logic for the country to celebrate economic and political gains made through self rule after the liberation of the nation when some of our ethnic communities continue practicing harmful practices such as the beading among the Samburu, forced abortions and genital female mutilation!
The government must institute development of marginalized pastoral areas to ward off these disgusting practices that have continued to drag us behind in attaining vision 2030 and the millennium development goals.
Emphasis must be made in funding the education of members of the pastoral communities. Non governmental organizations (NGOs) and human right groups must also cease to be extortion cartels for international funds. They must be on the forefront in pushing for the development of such communities since they are also entitle to formal education and protection from harmful practices.
(The writer is a fourth year media student at Maseno University. firstname.lastname@example.org)