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

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Engaged at 12,- 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.”

 

Sometimes we lie; to protect our daughters from the cut….

Women of Bakal Self Help Group

Somewhere in Laisamis, Sagartula village, a village sandwiched between Marsabit hills on the east and Lake Turkana on the west;   occupy the Rendille people, Rongumo Sub clan. Here you will find a group of about 15 women primarily functioning as a self-help group but with a noble intend to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Child marriage among young girls including their daughters.

After a 10hr drive from Kenya’s capital Nairobi and a further 1hr motor cycle ride from the local Laisamis town, I arrived at Kaltuma’s house just before the sun sank in the west. During my sandy ride, I was sporadically hit by waves of awful stenches caused by decaying carcasses of cattle and goats that scattered across the arid land; a manifestation of the harsh drought that adversely affects the region.

Ms. Kaltuma- Chairperson Bakal Self Help Group happily invited me into her home and served me camel milk tea. Her warm jovial family made me feel at home. We chatted away almost the entire evening. It was quite humid that I was unable to sleep. I tossed and turned for hours. The orchestra of the chattering insects outside almost soothed me to sleep. Her daughter, Saum, occasionally asked if I was fine; ‘aunty, are you Ok?’ She inquired, ‘Sure Saum,’ I lied. I kept peeping through the openings of the twig hut to enjoy  a stupendous array of bright stars that dominated the sky. Just when I was at the ‘peak’ of my hard found sleep, noises outside distracted me; the early morning birds chirped different tunes, the cows mooed at intervals, the cock crowed repeatedly while the goats bleated in turns. I could also overhear Ronte and Saum giggling outside and Ms. Kaltuma yelling their names on top of her lungs; Ronteeee! Saum!!. Clearly, every creature was up. So up, I woke! And stepped out of the hut with a haggard look in my eyes.

It was a bright breezy Saturday morning. Orange -pink sun rays  beatified the sky on the east. I was excited and fervent to meet these wonderful women of Bakal Self Help Group. During breakfast, the girls were curious about my work. I tried much to explain. Saum was more inquisitive and expressed her dream of becoming a journalist when she grows up. I encouraged her to work hard in school and read a lot of story books. After breakfast, they directed a video of ‘I reporting live on location’. Saum firmly held my I pad ‘Ok Aunty Lorna, 123 start!’ I rattled on…(these girls can be something!)

Saum and I

 

At about 10am, the women started streaming into Ms. Kaltumas homestead, one after the other, others in pairs chatting and occasionally stopping for a minute or so to gossip – then high five in cracking laughter.   Saum, Ronte and I were done with ‘reporting live’. We carried benches and arranged them under a tree- at 10am the equitorial sun was already shining with a strange cruelty. Soon all the women had arrived, the total sum lacking one woman, probably caught up by other pressing matters. Oh, she notified Ms. Kaltuma of her absence through one of the women present.

The meeting started. Ronte and Saum had been requested by their mother to give a hand with livestock. I took up my space, dressed in disguise, smiling a bit too abnormal-probably trying to create rapport. Ms. Kaltuma did the best. She introduced me to the ladies and introduced the ladies to me. She informed them of my presence. Most women here speak local dialect, ‘this is going to be hard’ I thought to myself. Not to worry, Ms. Kaltuma volunteered to translate. She told the women that the agenda of the meeting was going to change a bit since I was around. And that they would carry on with their meeting a bit later.

She led them through who I was once again (in details) and what had brought me there. She asked them to be honest and to feel free in expressing their views and opinions. The discussion began….

What was obvious is that these women are really bold and some including Ms. Kaltuma have been divorced by their husbands for being audacious- pastoralists’ wives are expected to be very humble and obedient to their husbands. Others have been ostracized by fellow women. This group is vigilantly protecting girls including their own daughters from FGM, bidding (booking underage girls for marriage) and child marriage cultures that are quite rampant in Laisamis. Circumcision here is performed as a highly valued culture and as rite of passage. A girl who is not cut is considered dirty and is a laughing stock to her peers.

These women are working to change the perception. They regularly approach other women and encourage them to preserve their daughters. I loudly wondered how possible that was….

When they started they were a group of about three women. The three women have slowly been reaching out to other women and gradually over one year the number has been growing. Some members drop out especially for fear of being shunned majorly because the group is against the deeply entrenched practices.

The women started by saving their own daughters before reaching out to the rest. They have chosen to use the funds they save to support each other educate their children-both girls and boys. So far, they are celebrating their achievement where one of their members’ daughter is set to sit for final exams this year.

‘How do the girls manage to deal with peer pressure? Do some of them choose to undergo the cut just to fit in?, I probed. They reveal to me something quite perturbing.

‘Sometimes when pressure is a lot, we lie about the cut’, Said one woman. The type of FGM performed here is excision-where the vaginal lips and the clitoris are scooped out. Under high secrecy, they revealed to me that they convince cutters to slightly cut a girls’ thigh using a sharp object-just for blood to drip.  The girl sharply screams – that’s enough indication that she has gone through the ritual.  A pact is made between the women and the girl- The girl is asked to remain silent and continue with her studies. The cutter is however paid triple the amount for risking her life by agreeing to tricks.

‘What if one day you are discovered?’ I shockingly asked, my eyes growing wider. ‘We will deal with that when that time comes’ they said. ‘For now what we want is safety for our girls’ expressed another woman. These women value education. They know that the educated children will be their instrument for change in Sagartula.

The women highlighted that awareness levels are quite low and that the community is quite reluctant to stop the practice. They however said that they have heard of an organization working to end the practice in the area though they have not been reached. They also pointed out that cutters make a good income out of the ‘business’ ( KES 1500, 5Kgs Sugar, A goat, 500gms Tea Leaves per girl) and that they are not just about to stop. In fact cutters are rich! Some of the women were sad that their elder daughters who have undergone the cut have dropped out of school and are married off leading impoverished lives.

Laisamis is arid. Rains come in the month of December through to January. During this time there is plenty of milk and blood since livestock have enough pasture to graze. This is considered the best time for FGM and child marriage. Child marriage is done to replace the livestock lost during drought through dowry- exchange of livestock for a girl.

They pointed out that their men especially elders are the most difficult to convince and if they were targeted, the practice would end. The women concluded by stating that their vision is big. But they will save one girl at a time…

 

North-South Cooperation in Fighting FGM

Girls' Globe

In recent years, it has become apparent that international cooperation is important in promoting inclusive and sustainable development, especially to achieve global development agendas. African countries recognize the importance of partnerships for enhancing and consolidating the growth of the continent.

Many African states have benefitted from the traditional North-South cooperation, through sharing experiences, technical assistance, as well as the cooperation of other  emerging economies. It is along such lines that the Anti-FGM campaign has picked up much-necessary momentum after years of lip service.

The campaign against FGM has had a long history, but it has been confined to board rooms and workshops, with few targeted grassroots campaigns. For instance, as recently as 2010, Kenya did not have an official policy addressing FGM and relied upon Presidential decrees. However, with the Anti-FGM policy put in place, in 2011, there has been considerable investment of resources and strategies from the North.

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The FGM Conversation has to Change

Girls' Globe

It’s been roughly 100 days since 2017 began. Reflecting on the past year’s campaigns against FGM and early marriages, it is true that all who are involved have come a long way. There have been moments where the campaign may have faltered and made missteps – but we’ve also seen some significant progress.

However, in the course of writing and campaigning, as well as visiting various communities across the country where FGM is practiced, I can attest that activists are increasingly encountering subtle resistance.

A revisionist movement is slowly but surely pushing back, challenging some of reasons advanced in campaigns against FGM as well as approaches that do not seem not to fit with their local context. As such, the conversation at the global and national level is not making much needed impact at the community level.

How is this possible, given the resources that are being channeled…

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