The reality of Child/Forced Marriage; Amina Opts for Suicide than Forced Marriage,

amina
speaking to Amina at her home in Musenke, Magadi.

Few weeks ago, while at Musenke primary school, I got a chance to interact and mentor about three hundred girls who were undergoing an Alternative Rites of Passage commonly known as ARPs, a program by AMREF Health Africa. My visit to Musenke brought me nigh to the reality of child/forced marriage.

Amina*, 14 years old narrowly escaped forced marriage to a 45 year old man. Amina was only 12 years old. Her close friend, Naserian*, 15 years escaped jaws of Female Genital Cutting and subsequent marriage at the age of 9.

Amina’s charming smile caught my attention. I instantly fell in love with her confidence coupled with her intelligence. On interacting with her, her smile proved to conceal distress that she underwent two years ago. With consent from AMREF Health Africa and Amina’s main guardian, I got a chance to interview her.

2013, Amina sat for her primary school final exams and emerged best girl from her class and district as well. She desired to join a secondary school to pursue her dream of becoming a Television Anchor. Her dreams were almost shuttered when her impoverished father secretly arranged her marriage to a man four times her age.

She got a wind of the planned marriage through her brother who eavesdropped to a conversation between his father and a neighbor. Amina was to be traded in the following day for a few cows that were to be sold to raise money for his elder brother’s school fee. (Amina’s mother passed on three years ago).

That night, Amina was unable to sleep. It was about midnight, she had few hours remaining to become a child bride, a wife with new responsibilities that she could not imagine herself performing! She instantaneously planned her escape.

She tiptoed across the room, careful not to wake up any soul. Cautiously, she opened the door, closed it silently and took off at a ‘leopard’s speed’.  She waved through thorny bushes oblivious of the danger she was putting herself through (here, wild animals are known to hunt for goats at this hour), the orchestra of the chirping insects giving her rhythm to sprint even faster. The breezy full moon night supplying her with just enough light to easily locate her elder half-sister’ house, which was about 5 Km away.

In roughly 20 minutes, she arrived, flinging her door wide open. She landed on the floor with a huge thud panting, sweating and slightly bleeding from body parts that had been pricked by thorns. Her sister woke up with a loud piercing scream. Amina quickly identified herself; Through gasps, she narrated her tribulation.

Her loving sister was very concerned. She happened to be an elementary school teacher at the same school that Amina attended. The following morning, she reported the matter to the schools’ management and what followed was a series of demonstrations and marches by her schoolmates and teachers. They marched to various offices including the Area Chief, Police Station, District Education Office, and Provincial Administration demanding for immediate action to be taken to spare Amina from the imminent arranged marriage.

Amina’s father was quite belligerent citing that his decision was final. He located her, went for her, dragged her and locked her in the house. He threatened that he would harm her and curse her if she attempted to escape again.

Activities in Musenke village came to a stand-still for three consecutive days. During the day, women could be seen gathering in small groups and talking in low tones. Men left the village in pretense of search for pasture for their livestock. School children tirelessly sang and chanted ‘No Marriage for Amina!, No marriage for Amina!’ At this time, Amina was drafting her suicide note.

Just before Amina could take away her life, the police stormed her house and rescued her. Her unmoved father was arrested and remanded for a few days. Amina was now running late to join secondary school. Luckily she was awarded a full bursary though a community development fund program. She was enrolled to Kiserian Girls High School. She is currently in form two pursuing her dream.

Amina has never stepped back home except when the Nation Television crew and I was conducting this interview. When schools close, she stays at her sisters’ place.

She graduated from the ARP program, a training program that helped her transition to adulthood without undergoing FGM. Amina is so far safe from FGM and Child Marriage.

Her friend Naserian ran away from home and sought refuge at a rescue centre in Narok, miles away from Musenke. Her parents are yet to find her.

Amina and Naserian represent a fraction of thousands of girls in Kenya who are at high risk of undergoing FGM and early/forced marriage; cultures that are robbing them off their dreams.

Abandonment of child marriages and FGM is pertinent to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Goals on education, Health, ending poverty and hunger as well as achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls.

 

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Anti-FGM Activists Hail the Media on FGM Coverage   

group 1
County Executive Commissioner Emily Chepoghiso among journalists and Anti-FGM activists

Global Media Campaign activists from various FGM practicing communities across Kenya commend the media on coverage of FGM stories. According to the activists, the extensive media coverage by both local and national media outlets (in print, radio, television) has finally given Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) a national attention, an attention that it deserves!

The youth activists together with various journalists across media houses earlier this week converged at The Horizon Resort, West Pokot, where they engaged in a dialogue to chart the next frame of action in combating Female Genital Mutilation.

The two day booster campaign was officially opened by the County Executive Commissioner Ms. Emily Chepoghiso. Ms. Chepoghiso thanked the activists and journalists for committing to end a form of violence that has staggered the socioeconomic growth of this country. She pledged her support in battling FGM and cattle rustling. “I will work closely with you to ensure that no girl is denied her basic human right in the name of culture,” Said Ms. Chepoghiso.

Also, speaking at the of two day booster campaign; Global Media campaign Regional Coordinator Ms. Domtila Chesang congratulated journalists on the increased reporting of FGM stories. In her remarks, she noted that the move has not only created awareness on the issue but also increased advocacy at the grassroots level. ‘Despite the constant challenges that we encounter in our work, we shall remain focused to the struggle to end this practice’ said the passionate Chesang.

Ms. Chesang, a recipient of the 2017 Young Queen leaders’ award by the Queen of England, acknowledged the role of both the local and national media in highlighting her work of eliminating FGM in West Pokot County.

The Global Media, Media Cordinator Diana Kendi who is also an award winning journalist for reportage of FGM stories has too been playing an important role of linking up journalists to the activists as well as identifying and refining content for feature stories, radio and television interviews. Diana committed to looping in as many journalists as possible citing that journalists have the power to bring about desired change in the society.

Campaigns’ Executive Director, Maggie O’kane who was also present at the booster campaign recognized the mutual relationship existing between journalists and activists. She noted that the relationship has helped to catalyze efforts undertaken by other actors including the civil societies, development partners, private sectors, and the government to accelerate abandonment of the practice.

Similar efforts have also been launched, under the banner of Global Media Campaign, across FGM practicing countries including The Gambia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Somali and Nigeria. In this regard, the campaign has also seen the release of two films; one featuring a global activist Jaha Dukureh- Jahas Promise which premiered this year in major cinemas worldwide and another one featuring a local activist Domtila Chesang and Beyond FGM UK- The Cut: Exploring FGM which aired during the first week of October 2017 on Aljazeera.

Currently, the activists are in early stages of engaging with religious leaders (priests and Imams) to come out and collectively speak against the practice.

 

About the Global Media Campaign #MediaToEndFGM

The Global Media Campaign (GMC) formerly The Guardian Global Media Campaign (GGMC) was officially launched in October 2014 under a joint funding strategy with UNFPA. Small grants were provided to journalists and news editors to help send journalists into remote areas to follow up on stories. Simultaneously, the dissemination of information regarding the health consequences of FGM and promoting the achievements of girls who had not been cut was set in motion, through offline materials and community radio presentations featuring respected local and religious leaders, and content translation into local dialects. By mid-2015, the GGMC had identified a number of young men and women working in isolation to challenge FGM. In September 2015, the GGMC ran a media-training academy (#EndFGMAcademy) in Nairobi, to which these activists were invited. They were given media training to empower them to collect and relay stories about the harms of FGM. The academy was opened by the then chairperson of the Kenya Anti-Female Genital Mutilation Board, Linah Jebii Kilimo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creating ‘Safe space’ for women?

Earlier this month. I got an opportunity to attend a training by The Africa Women’s Development and Communication Network, (FEMNET). The two-day training themed; ‘Strengthening Young African Women’s Movement and their role in Ending FGM and Child/forced marriages’ -was meant to equip young feminists with skills to help them better their campaign programs.

I  am a young female blogger on the same so I qualified to attend this ‘one of a kind’ training.

ruth 2
Catherine Nyambura, Programme Associate, FEMNET, (Left) poses with trainees

Why do I call it ‘one of a kind’ training? Well I consider it unique for the sheer reason that all the participants were females only! I have never attended a training where participants comprised of single sex, either, or. This particular one being my first. Most of my fellow trainees shared my sentiments.

Hold up, before you ask me whether I ought to have seen the theme indicating ‘Young African Women’ Oh yes I clearly saw it while responding to the call for participation. But again, how many times have we attended women themed meetings and workshops where male participants dominated discussions on  ‘women’s issues’ and arrived at solutions on ‘our’ behalf. I have. Many times. And I tend to talk less….

‘Hmmm this is interesting…’ I thought to myself on the first day of the training. Finally, what a safe space for women to exercise their freedom of expression without fear and to better articulate their issues.

During one of the health breaks, I caught up with an over excited 25 year old Ruth Kilimo. Ruth, Founder Marakwet Girls Foundation narrowly escaped Female Genital Mutilation at the age of 9. Ruth was happy to finally have found a space where healing was more important than debate. She is currently working to end FGM and early marriages in Elgeyo Marakwet, a region that is largely marginalised.

Ruth Chepchumba Kilimo, Founder, Marakwet Girls Foundation sharing her experience during the training.

The room was filled up with young women from various parts of the country, women of about 24-40 years. Women with vigor, women who believe that the future of the next generation is destined in their hands, women who won’t allow young girls to experience inequalities and oppression for being women like they have! Women who are ready to hold hands and synergize towards a just, safe society for all. You can now imagine the energy in ‘that’ room.

The training topics were quite interesting and I must say I loved understanding my Sexual Reproductive Health Rights. Let me be honest. I probably have used this term ‘SRHR”  a couple of times not really knowing what it actually meant. So, if you have been throwing it around not knowing what it means then do not worry. Here is what I learnt. I promise to be as brief as possible (because today am discussing ‘safe spaces’, rather)

Women’s sexual and reproductive health is related to multiple human rights, including the right to life, the right to be free from torture, the right to health, the right to privacy, the right to education, and the prohibition of discrimination

Under sexual rights; the 14th World Congress of Sexology (Hong Kong, 1999), adopted the Universal Declaration of Sexual Rights, which includes 11 sexual rights:

  1. The right to sexual freedom.
  2. The right to sexual autonomy, sexual , and safety of the sexual body.
  3. The right to sexual privacy.
  4. The right to sexual equity.
  5. The right to sexual pleasure.
  6. The right to emotional sexual expression.
  7. The right to sexually associate freely.
  8. The right to make free and responsible reproductive choices.
  9. The right to sexual information based upon scientific inquiry.
  10. The right to comprehensive sexuality education.
  11. The right to sexual health care.

Now you know.

Besides the SRHR session, young women also got to learn about advocacy and how to carry out successful campaigns. How to engage with the media to amplify their voices and how to leverage on new/social media to earn a critical mass. We were also taught to understand the need for young feminist movement building that is as young women, if we collaborate and concert efforts we are going to achieve our desired vision sooner.

Back to safe spaces, my definition for safe spaces would therefore be; places or communities-either online or off- where bigotry, misogyny and oppressive views are not tolerated. Controlled environments in which people discuss certain issues and support one another. Essentially safe spaces provide a network of support and understanding. An oasis for some groups who are otherwise denied safety and respect by the world.

and this is the space that young women activists just need!

 

 

My ‘sweet’ life as an African Child

I grew up upcountry. In a small village nestled within a huge forest (the forest is no more-it was cleared to resettle a population that had been affected by tribal clashes elsewhere). Yes, Marula village. We just moved in from Kisii town where my dad worked. I loved my new little village. It was quite vibrant. Life was good.

Bano, one of the games we enjoyed

My primary school, Marula primary school was about 5kms away, adjacent to the forest. In fact on our way to school, we would play with monkeys and occasionally feed them my break time meal. Once in a while there was word that a wild animal was spotted, profiting us to cancel school until wardens nabbed it, mostly hyenas. 

My school was a new school, I was among the first pupils to join the school. The classrooms were made of mud and iron sheet roof. We started off with three classes;class 1-3, nursery lessons were conducted under a tree. I got to class four before new classes could be built. With limited classrooms, we found ourself taking up our classes at the edge of the forest. I loved the breeze. But I hated the plenty of canes the forest supplied! Our teachers; Mr. Sasaka, Mr Shitoka, Mr. Kimata, Madam Beria and our Head Master Mr. Maina practically depleted the forest!

We were few pupils, about 10-20 in each class. I loved school…. Including school activities such as ‘smearing’-(lucky if you know what I mean because am not about to explain). Most of the pupils never wore shoes, they walked bare feet (I had shoes but sometimes on my way to school I removed and hid them in a thicket so as to fit in with the rest ). You would be isolated for being ‘too rich’. Well I would wear them back on my way back home to avoid being scolded by mama. My sister wore hers throughout and never cared what others would say. (Well, she was special). We all shaved our heads, (though kids of whom their parents were also teachers plaited their hair, talk of mapendeleo-favouritism). The rest of us shaved Jordan! Hair an inch would warrant you canes. You would be sent back home to clear it from your head! We always looked forward to free milk from our then president Moi, commonly know us ‘maziwa ya watu to wa nyayo’. I was significantly part of the school cultural dance group, dancing away my feeble sisal coutured waist, entertaining parents during closing days. 

School girls dancing during a school celebration

Life in the village was fun. We enjoyed playing makora, bano, swings, baishu, skipping rope, chamama and chababa, hide and seek and many other games that had wiered names.  We also loved playing in the rain, again bare feet, and playing with rain water; swimming in it and sliding in the mud! We also loved eating the hailstones that dropped from heavy rains. (They were so cold in the mouth-I loved the feeling). Oh yes, my childhood games were fun! Quite fun! How we engulfed the whole village with screams while playing!

Saturday’s were good days to fetch firewood; from the forest of course. While collecting firewood, we hunted for wild fruits, played hide and seek, and all sorts of games. We however hurried back home before dawn, because any minute after the sun sank on the west meant a beating from mama!

On other Saturdays my friends and I would raid ‘mean’ neighbors homesteads who would rather their fruits ripen and fall on their own than share with the kids. We would ‘break’ through the thorny fences and steal. Lucky if you were never nabbed! I was always nabbed and got a double beating-from the brutal neighbor then another one at home, from mama! I threw in a towel when our delinquency was reported to Mr. Maina who feasted on us on the parade on Monday. 

As a teenage girl, I leaned a lot of chores, doing dishes, doing laundry, looking after cattle especially when my brother ran off to play. I worked on the farm, I also learnt how to milk cows! My favorite chore was cleaning the house. My elder sister was ‘sickly’-she was spared a lot of chores. (Put an angry face emoji here) Though she loved cooking. She wasn’t a great playmate, she loved reading and always topped  all through the classes-Often called ‘chopi’

My deceased grandmother was awesome! She often gathered us around her three stone cooking fire in the evening for story telling sessions, some a bit scaring, that I stayed awake at night. We questioned her a lot on things we did not understand. She taught us songs, traditional songs. I still remember them, even the stories I can recall them. She taught me how to sit like a girl…. I loved her meals- cooked from a cooking pot, called ‘indabu’  in my local dialect. She also stored water in a huge pot (isongo) in a corner in one of her rooms-for it to cool-it would cool like water in a fridge. I always broke off my play to go quench my thirst there. She was great- I was named after her-and now my daughter resembles her, in every single bit including her walking style. These people never die, they are actually reborn!

I loved everything about my life in the village, including swimming at the forbidden river at the neighboring Marakusi village.

My church was far, about 10kms away, crossing through the forest to a village on the other side, Mlimani. We always went to Sunday school. My grandmother was always late for service sometimes making it when the service is closing-when the priest is dismissing congregants. Hahaha! I used to laugh at her, poor thing! 

Anyways I loved Christmas inter church competitions vs celebrations, commonly know as ‘Malago’. Most of the time I was the conductor for the Christmas ballads representing our church- Our church always topping through the years. If I forget to mention the feeling I had over Christmas then this article should be considered useless! The new shoes, the new clothes, the plenty of food and drinks. Christmas was a day to look forward to and to count down, so was the 1st. Boxing Day was not that big, the new clothes were enough of gifts to receive from parents……..to be continued

The Northern Star Shining Bright! – Qabale Duba (Anti-FGM Activist)

“My childhood was quite turbulent, but it mounded me in to the current empowered woman I am.” Began our conversation…

Qabale tying a knot during the recent wedding celebrations in Marsabit
Qabale Duba, youngest of her eight siblings; 6 girls, 3 boys, was born in Turbi, a small village along Marsabit-Moyale Highway. Coming from a humble pastoralists background, and from a community that had less regard for girl child education then, Qabale considers herself quite lucky to have successfully maneuvered through the struggles. She greatly thanks her head teacher (Turbi Primary) and her late brother who both saved her from the negotiated marriage when she was twelve; after almost over bleeding to death after undergoing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) a year prior. 

How could she have survived the merciless sharp jaws of child marriage that had engulfed all her sisters? Really, who was she to be spared? In Turbi, FGM and child marriage are normal practices, opposing them is like asking to be ousted!

After months of pulling and pushing, Qabale finally found refuge in her brothers arms. Additionally her performance in school was quite impressive! She too was an excellent class prefect in class six, an amazing deputy head girl in class seven and a tough headgirl in class eight! Her commitment and discipline made her top pupil in the entire constituency, compelling the school fraternity to join hands to put her through secondary education. She was enrolled at Moi girls Marsabit where again she emerged top among the best performing girls. 
Her hard work and leadership skills in high school motivated her brother to put her through university. She joined Kenya Methodist University (KEMU) and pursued Bachelors Degree in  Nursing.

Her charisma and outspoken abilities saw her win elections for Secretary General position KEMU University where she represented 5 universities. While in campus, Qabale’s passion for girl child could be noticed. She mentored and participated in Open day meetings and career talks where she majorly targeted girls. Still, she did not forget about her fellow girls back at home who were at high risk of dropping out of school due to FGM and Child Marriage. She convinced the KEMU peer club members and dean to visit her home, Marsabit, and talk to school going girls, teachers and parents. Off they went.

Quabale, during one of her mentoring sessions at Moi Girls Marsabit, her former school.

Still , while in university, she contested for a first ever reality show -(Expedition Challenge) that aired on NTV prime time. Among the 48 student leaders (24boys and 24 girls from 12 universities) Qabale clinched position 3 as the symbolic leader. Again, a chance to contest for beauty pageant came by, Qabale had never considered the exercise worthwhile besides her community deemed beauty pageants in bad light-‘mannerless girls’. She however went ahead and contested for Miss Tourism Marsabit 2013. She was the only contestant from North Eastern Kenya so yes she made through as Miss Marsabit and Miss confidence 2013/2014.

She vividly recalls that at that time, Marsabit was experiencing inter tribal clashes and that there was unrest alongside deaths of innocent people. Qabale can be remembered for asking for peace from her people instead of asking for votes. ‘Who would have voted for me if my people were fighting and killing each other?’She said. Well, she clinched both investment and peace titles out of six available titles spiraling her to position 2 country wide and earning the title Queen of Marsabit, biggest county in Kenya.

Qabale speaking to women from Marsabit on effects of FGM
Growing up in the village, Qabale experienced various challenges. ‘My first menses were the most shameful day in my life’ she recalls. ‘I had to do something to help my girls.’ Using her newly acquired title, she went back to the county with her dream; to alleviate shame from young girls. In 2017, she started her program:Pads and Panties famously know as PaPa; a name that has become her street nick name in Marsabit. 

Under the county department of tourism and department of education, she distributes reusable Pads and Panties to keep girls in school. To tackle the issue of FGM, Qabale works closely with the Kenya AntiFGM Board . She has managed to invite the board to her village Turbi and her neighboring village Maikona to hold awareness and sensitization events. Under her own capacity, she moves from village to village sensitizing the community on the health, social and economic effects of the practice. Being a nurse she best knows the health effects of FGM. Additionally, she does local radio talk shows and Television interviews on effects of FGM where she reaches a large geographical region in  Marsabit. 

Qabale now runs her foundation called Qabale Duba Foundation. She advocates for peace, girl child empowerment , eradication of harmful traditional practices. She also mentors with Akili Dada Fellowship– a regional mentoring program.

Beautiful bride indeed!
Who would have known a village girl so innocent would end up graduating from Syracuse University in NY-through a six month Mandela Washington Fellowship Program. Who would have known her otherwise agonizing tale would be the story read out during the Presidential Summit dinner in Washington DC, as the most inspiring story of the 1000 young African leaders present” Who would have known a girl cut at 11 would be a guest speaker at the 1st African Youth Summit in Kenya, Junior Chambers International; and a guest guest speaker on the same in Cape Town, South Africa.

And guess what?!, Qabale is the only Young African Leaders Initiative, (YALI) allumni to have received a hand written letter mailed all the way from the White House by the US Former President Barack Obama to her mailbox in Marsabit congratulating her on her unending commitment to make the world a better place!

Three weeks ago, she won an award by Next Generation Women Leaders alongside 54 applicants all over the world. She was the top out of the East Africa applicants.

Qabale is a go getter, nothing stops her, nothing discourages her. She is a role model to many young girls.

During this interview, Qabale was in high spirit, high gear preparing for her wedding celebrations with the rightful person; a man of her dreams, a man of her choice , a man after her heart, a man that she is in love with and most importantly at the right time! As I publish this article, I am so happy for her and sincerely wish her the best of luck on her marriage that took place in Marsabit two weeks ago.  

The Northern Star Shining Bright, Qabale Duba (Anti-FGM activist)

” My childhood was quite turbulent, but it mounded me into the current empowered woman I am.” Began our conversation…

Qabale Duba tying a knot during the recent wedding celebrations

Qabale Duba, youngest of her nine siblings; 6 girls, 3 boys, was born in Turbi, a small village along Marsabit-Moyale Highway. Coming from a humble pastoralists background, and from a community that had less regard for girl child education  then, Qabale considers herself quite lucky to have successfully maneuvered through the struggles. She greatly thanks her head teacher (Turbi Primary) and her late brother who both saved her from the negotiated marriage when she was twelve; after almost over bleeding to death – after undergoing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) a year prior. 

How could she have survived the merciless sharp jaws of child marriage that had engulfed all her sisters? Really, who was she to be spared? In Turbi, FGM and child marriage are normal practices,  opposing them is like asking to be ousted!

After months of pulling and pushing, Qabale finally found refuge in her brothers arms. Additionally her performance in school was quite impressive! She too was an excellent class prefect in class six, an amazing deputy head girl in class seven and a tough head girl in class eight! Her commitment and discipline made her top the entire constituency, compelling the school fraternity to join hands to put her through secondary education. She was enrolled at Moi girls Marsabit where again she emerged top among the best performing girls. 

Her hard work and leadership skills in high school motivated her brother to put her through university. She joined Kenya Methodist University (KEMU) and pursued nursing.

Her charisma and outspoken abilities saw her win elections for Secretary General position KEMU University where she represented 5 universities. While in campus, Qabale’s passion for girl child could be noticed. She mentored and participated in Open day meetings and career talks where she majorly targeted girls. Still, she did not forget about her fellow girls back at home who were at high risk of dropping out of school due to FGM and Child Marriage. She convinced the KEMU peer club members and dean to visit her home, Marsabit, and talk to school going girls, teachers and parents. Off they went.

Qabale during one of her mentoring session sat Moi girls Marsabit, her former school

Still , while in university, she contested for a first ever reality show -(Expedition challenge ) that aired on NTV prime time. Among the 48 student leaders (24boys and 24 girls from 12universities) Qabale clinched position 3 as the symbolic leader. Again, a chance to contest for beauty pageant came by, Qabale had never considered the exercise worthwhile besides her community deemed beauty pageants in bad light-‘mannerless girls’. She however went ahead and contested for Miss Tourism Marsabit 2013. She was the only contestant from North Eastern Kenya so yes she made through as Miss Marsabit and Miss confidence 2013/2014.

She vividly  recalls that at that time, Marsabit was experiencing inter tribal clashes and that there was unrest as well as  deaths of innocent people. Qabale can be remembered for asking for peace from her people instead of asking for votes. ‘Who would have voted for me if my people were fighting and killing each other?’She said. Well, she clinched both investment and peace titles out of six available titles spiraling her to position 2 country wide and earning the title Queen of Marsabit, biggest county in Kenya.

Qabale speaking to women from Marsabit on effects of FGM

Growing up in the village, Qabale experienced various challenges. ‘my first menses were the most shameful day in my life’ she recalls. ‘I had to do something to help my girls’ Using her newly acquired title, she went back to the county with her dream; to alleviate shame from young girls. In 2017, she started her program:Pads and Panties famously know as PaPa a name that has become her street nick name in Marsabit. 

Under the county department of tourism and department of education, she distributes reusable Pads and Panties to keep girls in school. To tackle the issue of FGM, Qabale works closely with the Kenya AntiFGM Board . She has managed to invite the board to her village Turbi and her neighboring village Maikona to hold awareness and sensitization events. Under her own capacity, she moves from village to village sensitizing the community on the health, social and economic effects of the practice. Being a nurse she best knows the health effects of FGM. Additionally, she participates in both local radio talk shows and Television interviews to sensitize the community on effects of the cut. 

Qabale now runs her foundation called Qabale Duba Foundation. She advocates for peace, girl child empowerment , eradication of traditional harmful practices. She also mentors with Akili Dada Fellowship Program

Beautiful bride indeed!
Who would have known a village girl so innocent would end up graduating from Syracuse University in NY-through a six month Mandela Washington Fellowship Program. Who would have known her otherwise agonizing tale would be the story read out during the Presidential Summit dinner in Washington DC, as the most inspiring story of the 1000 young African leaders present. Who would have known a girl cut at 11 would be a guest speaker at the 1st African Youth Summit in Kenya,  Junior Chambers international ; and a guest speaker on the same in Cape Town, South Africa.

And guess what?!, Qabale is the only Young African Leaders Initiative, (YALI) allumni to have received a hand written letter mailed all the way from the White House by the US Former President Barack Obama to her mailbox in Marsabit congratulating her on her unending commitment to make the world a better place!

Three weeks ago won an award by Next Generation Women Leadersalongside  orher 54 applicants all over the world. She was the top, of the East Africa applicants.

Qabale is a go getter, nothing stops her, nothing discourages her. She is a role model to many young girls.

During this interview, Qabale was in high spirit, high gear preparing for her wedding celebrations with the rightful person; a man of her dreams, a man of her choice , a man after her heart, a man that she is in love with and most importantly at the right time! As I publish this article, I am so happy for her and sincerely wish her nothing but happiness as she begins a new chapter in her life! 

Confessions of a Borehole Driller- ‘why am against the cut’

Galgalo Boru, 40years, from Sagante Village, slopes of Marasbit hills, Kenya recounts…

Galgalo, showcasing one of the traditional houses called ‘Galm’

“For about 15 years, I worked across Kenya as a borehole driller and occasionally a taxi driver. I worked hard to provide for my family and my ailing mother. I hated staying away from them, but I always made an effort to see my three beautiful daughters and wife at least twice a year.

While working, I made friends with my fellow work mates. We would always catch up on drinks during the weekend. My friends used to joke a lot and say things that I obviously never took seriously.

I particularly remember the year I was posted to work in Migori,Western Kenya. During one of our usual weekend hangouts, a colleague brought up a topic that left questions lingering on my mind for days. The discussion was about sex. Yes, their sexual experiences with different women around Kenya. They kept glorifying women from certain parts of Kenya. I wondered, but all women are same, how can sex be different again?

‘Nyinyi mumekata wanawake wenu, mumeharibu utamu’ meaning (you guys have performed Female Genital Mutilation on your women hence messing with their sexuality’) They went on to explain and descriptively describe their sexual experiences and highly glorified a certain local tribe that apparently doesn’t ‘mutilate’ girls. I was perturbed. Confused  rather. I did not contribute much because I did not understand what they were talking about. My mind drifted away for a couple of minutes..

That night I thought about that particular statement made about our women for hours..

Being a man, I wanted to prove that statement. So one day I pursued a woman from one of the said tribe. A young voluptuous beautiful girl. She was in her mid twenties, In college. I did not love her. I just wanted to ‘taste’ her. After days of persuading, I finally got her! And yes, the experience was ‘out of this world’. I loved the way she responded during intercourse, she was well lubricated, she occasionally took charge, and she had several orgasms.  We both enjoyed the experience – And confirmed the statement made by my colleagues. I wanted her, again and again. But I felt guilty. I was cheating on my wife!

They type of FGM performed in my community is bad. They cut off the clitoris. They also cut out the vaginal lips. See, when having sex with my wife, I always have to be careful not to bruise or hurt her- because she was left with a scar.

I love my wife. I do not want to cheat on her ever again. But I will not allow my daughters to undergo FGM. I do not want to mess with their sexuality! It is unfortunate that my elder girl was cut while I was away. It pains me.I will protect the rest including my nieces. I will ensure that they go to school and help me end this oppressive culture.

I do not blame my community. For I know they do not know what they are doing. We perform FGM to make a woman have less sexual desire so that she does not ‘go out’. But you see in the end we (men) deprive ourselves the chance to enjoy sex with our women.

I am a culture conservationist . In fact I stopped drilling boreholes. I am back at home, working as a Boda Boda rider. I also ran a self help group called ‘Uluko Cultural Group’. I promote the culture and heritage of a Borana people (clothing, attire, traditional houses). We also perform cultural music and dance during music / cultural festivals.

Of all our cultural and traditional aspects, I do not support FGM. It is wrong. It is selfish. It is oppressive. It is demeaning.  Everyone in my village Sagante knows my stand. But they do not know the real reasons behind it. Only you know. I often tell them that FGM is unlawful and that they will be arrested if they practice.

I will campaign against it and hopefully in future women will be free, to fully enjoy sex.”