Thursday, November 21, 2019

Female Genital Mutilation Comparing Two Primary Source Articles Essay

Female Genital Mutilation Comparing Two Primary Source Articles - Essay Example The two articles; "Wanjiku: Life of A Traditional Woman" by Jean Davison and "National Bodies, Unspeakable Acts: The Sexual Politics of Colonial Policy Making" by Susan Pedersen have given great insight into the myriad aspects of the custom and the controversy surrounding it. Indeed, both the articles have made it clear that female circumcision had not only cultural significance but the political connotations of the issue had superseded its relevance or non relevance in Kenya, especially in the early and mid twentieth century. It was the time when female circumcision was an intrinsic part of socio-cultural dynamics of Kenya which had become synonymous with the identity of Kikuyu. As can be adjudged by Wanjiku's narration, the inhabitants were deeply rooted in the way of life the "Gikuyu" (i.e the cultural community) proposed. A very strong joint family structure was prevalent and their entire life was concentrated within their circles. Having said so, the custom of Irua which could be a barbaric vestige to our perception was as natural for them as a harvesting season festival or a wedding. The Irua was a custom of central significance to the Kikuyu life. The public ceremony marked a new phase in the life of women, it bonded those who were "initiated" very strongy and established a hierarchical structure in the community. Sir Grigg observed in one his letters to Sidney Webb at the Colonial Office," This faction, through its ill-advised attitude, done more than anything else to delay the emancipation of Kikuyu womanhood".1 Though there was some element of truth to this statement, I believe it is important to target the heart of the matter itself. What led to Irua or Clitoridectomy to occupy such an important position in the life of Kikuyu members in the first place What is the heart of the matter The real trigger As described in Pedersen's text, Historians have sidelined in detail how the estrangement and settlement of white population pockets," the establishment of adjoining "native reserves," the construction of a system of "tribal" authority often at odds with earlier political structures, and the deliberate use of taxation and legislation to restrict Africans' freedom to grow cash crops and to coerce them into wage labor left many Kikuyu with little of their "traditional" life, except perhaps the still-powerful rituals of clitoridectomy and male circumcision." 2 Not surprisingly, Irua became synonymous with Kikuyu pride and thus gained momentum as a tradition that signified national pride. The many sides of the coin The nationalist sentiments on the basis of this custom were fanned as the custom was not allowed to remain confined to the community. It soon catapulted into the pivot around which colonial and nationalist arguments and revolutions were based. While on one

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