Love prevails, at last!
For the past nine years CCT through the Women Development Gender and Children has been working on sensitizing the society in Tarime in order that they desist from gender based violence(GBV) especially female genital mutilation (FGM). This work started in 2005 and up to the time of writing of the article it is 9 years.
In an ironic coincidence recently there has been a union of a couple with a history of going against Kurya traditions. Since in Tarime FGM is not only about traditions but it is a strong faith, it needs some really strong nerves to dare go against it. However every night must break into morning, eventually. A generation is coming up in Tarime that can, has and always will dare to think out of the box. These people are the likes of a new couple Daniel Mgosi and Esther Daniel.
For an uninformed outsider there would be nothing but a normal wedding in a Christian African setting. However two issues must have made the wedding odd before eyes of their neighbours.
Firstly, it is the age. At 24 and 18 Daniel and Esther, respectively, are way too late to get married. At the same age most of their peers would be married with up to two children! Most girls get married immediately after clearing primary education, and being cut of course! Folks would refer to them as “expired”, those who go beyond time without getting married.
Secondly both were unclean before the eyes of the community. Daniel was circumcised in the hospital and Esther was not circumcised at all. Typical Kurya circumcision for boys is not only meant to remove the foreskin, but also it is a stamp of courage of someone, and pride for the whole family. So it qualifies a person as a qualified brave and strong man, a worrier. So for Daniel’s choice, it meant he underwent the procedure with anesthetics and all assortments of clinical jargons that make it a cowardly act.
For Esther it was even worse as she was not going to be easily married. For instance the oldest son of a Kurya homestead must marry a clean woman because she is the one who will be opening the “gate” every morning. That task needs a woman to be clean. Secondly an unclean woman is thought to be vulnerable to diseases and most likely she is not going to be faithful to her husband. Such a concoction of ideas meant that a girl like Esther is the last thing a man would want to marry.
The episode twists when the society despite all criticism could not stand the sheer beauty and innocence of the wedding. Among the wonders of this wedding: it is the first wedding for the bride to wear a wedding dress and have a wedding cake. Also it was the first time the bride was driven to church instead of walking or riding on a bicycle.
AICT parish in Tarime hired 3 cars to carry the bride and groom as well as their parents. The choir organized a 250,000/- TShs gift, a decent set of pots as well as a dinner set. The church decided to back up this wedding strongly so as to obliterate the thought that a person will not get many gifts in their wedding if they are not circumcised.
In order to feed about 350 attendants to the wedding AICT parish at Nyarwana paid for it all, prepared and served the food for everyone who attended.
To most young people who attended the event was a very powerful persuasion for them to reconsider if FGM is really necessary. Some even openly said that they will not get cut so that they may have the same kind of wedding as Esther.
Before their wedding on 4th of October 2014 Esther and Daniel had been through CCT Sunday school lessons against FGM as well as primary school training camps. With that background they became sensitized on the risks pertained to both male circumcision-the local way and female genital mutilation.
Daniel’s Father has vowed to take Esther as his own daughter who is currently learning tailoring with her sisters-in-law. By being a tailor Esther will support her husband in meeting family needs, since Daniel is a peasant.
In this young marriage love has prevailed against all odds; the love between partners as well as the love to honour sanctity of one’s own body and not allow it to be a pawn in traditional games.