SIERRA LEONE: Paramount Chief Supports FGM

Paramount Chief of Nongowa chiefdom, Kenema district has declared his support for the controversial female genital mutilation (FGM) locally referred to as 'Bondo' society practiced by women in Sierra Leone.

PC Amara Bonya Vagahun who was reacting to an April 17 publication of Premier News newspaper which quoted him as saying "Bondo is against the law', said he has never made such pronouncement and that the author of the article did not confirm his report before publishing the story.

According to the publication the chief was speaking on the problems of quack doctors in their communities during a stakeholders' meeting on blood transfusion and obstetric practices outside the hospital complex at his court's barry on April 1 this year.

According to the story, the chief had stated that the traditional 'Bondo' practice among women was against the law and called on traditional elders in the communities to address the situation.

"I was not elected by the British but rather by traditional people whom I am answerable to. If anybody denounces 'Bondo' that is his or her rights but it should not be a paramount chief because we are closely connected with the society," he said.

He affirmed that his family has a 'Bondo' house where all his daughters and female relatives are initiated.

"I cannot marry a woman who did not go through the process. It will be unfortunate if I failed to protect my people from detractors like Premier News," he stated angrily.

Vagahun referred to the publication as malicious, baseless, inciting and has the potential of obstructing peace and stability in his chiefdom.

He said 'Bondo' society is part of their cultural practices and as a traditional chief his responsibility was to uphold the culture and tradition of his subjects.

The chief said "such defamatory stories may not yield any good fruit for the people of Sierra Leone.

"We have elected 'Bondo' leaders in this chiefdom. I am calling on them, including other PCs to take a very strong action against the reporter. Again I will ask the editor to give the identity of the reporter so that we would take chiefdom decision against him," he concluded.

However, Editor of Premier News James Williams said that aspect of the story which quoted the paramount chief was merely adopted because it supposedly came from a traditional head.

"The story was sent in by our correspondent in Kenema and it was not an interview. The chief could have called to let me know that there was misunderstanding somewhere. We want to encourage him to call us and make his observations. He has the right to reply," said Williams.


AUTHOR: Mohamed Massaquoi

URL: Click here

DATE: 06/05/2008

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