UGANDA: Uprooting FGM Takes Much More Than Outlawing It

THERE has been a lot of talk over certain cultural practices that politicians and human rights activists perceive as archaic and, therefore, deserving to be done away with.

Key among these is the Sebei culture of female genital mutilation, which, human rights activists say, demeans women.

However, we must never forget that most of our cultures did not occur with a stroke of a pen. Our fore parents had pertinent reasons why they did things the way they did them, and in most cases, their hypotheses were proven across generations.

For example, FGM was meant to initiate a girl into womanhood and there are a lot of rituals that surround it. So, even after realising that it has many disadvantages, this is not a culture you can simply dump in a political statement at a campaign rally.

There used to be other cultures like parents approving of their children's spouses before marriage, blood pact relationships, tying a huge stone on the neck of infidels and throwing them in the river.

All these were stern measures meant to ensure strict discipline among the people, but with time, they have all been eroded.

While I admit that with the level of transformation society has undergone, a lot has to change to meet the demands of a modern society, erosion of cultural principles without suitable replacements could be terribly catastrophic. A lot of sensitisation is also needed to de-hook people from their traditions.

Gone are the days when elders would sit around a fire and tell their children useful riddles and impart morals; gone are the days when the duty of raising a child was society's collective responsibility; and gone are the days when children respected their parents' views. Many youngsters have adopted their own language dialects and are living carelessly.

Of course, I do not agree with the notion that it's wrong for the youth to adopt Western cultures while negating their traditional ones. There are some Western cultures like having simple weddings, time management and family planning, which we must copy if we want to develop. Bad culture, whether traditional or Western, must be shunned.


AUTHOR: Deo K. Tumusiime

URL: Click here

DATE: 17/12/2010

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