Friday, April 20, 2007


Controversy erupted at Kiriani High School on the outskirts of Meru in eastern Kenya when 18 students who had just been admitted into the secondary school were sent home after it was discovered they were uncircumcised.

Trouble started during a shower session when one of the boys was discovered to be uncircumcised by the other students, who started called him names and demanded that he left. The boys had to spend the night at the school boardroom in fear, he said, and the head teacher had no option but to send them away. They started chanting war and circumcision songs that terrified the boy who rushed to the principal’s office and was later followed by 17 others who had also not undergone the ritual.

The schools principal Mr. Kithinji’s letter to the parents of the suspended boys read in part: “You sneaked your son in school without reporting to us that the boy was (not circumcised). When such boys are in school, they not only bring a lot of discomfort to the other boys but also cause a lot of psychological torture to your son… Please do the needful within two weeks (i.e. have him circumcised), and let your son report back to school with you immediately he is well”.

After you’re cut, you get the freedom to wander around wherever you see fit.
Photos By Traveling Cat

But the Kenya Ministry of Education officials have condemned the decision. Education Minister George Saitoti says the action was uncalled for nowadays and against ministry regulations.

“We abhor such a practice and we shall not give any chance to this kind of primitive action in our schools,” said Mr. Saitoti.

A community elder in Meru noted that sending students who are not circumcised is a recipe for chaos, especially when it is a known fact that bullying new-comers is prevalent at our schools.

Circumcision Parade for initiates

Circumcision is not a requirement for one to be admitted to high school.

A local medical doctor, who is also a politician and a human rights activist, Dr Charles Mwirabua Thiakunu, denounced the school management’s action, terming it a gross abuse of human rights. “The right to education is a human right, which should not be denied or violated by anyone.”


Some say that the boys may not have been circumcised because of the cost involved in the huge ceremony. Normally the event is marked with a massive feast - cattle and goats are slaughtered and large volumes of alcohol are served alongside assorted meals for the relatives who come to attend. Apart from the main ceremony, parents also pay for the upkeep of the boys as they heal, since they take special meals and this may take two weeks. The exercise can cost between $400 to $700 and not many people can afford this. One needs to save for this occasion.

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