By Jeremiah Chamakany
A story of three Generations of women ,Mother, daughter and granddaughter who Live around Lake Bogoria. They are deeply involved in Baringo’s raging war for recognition; the establishment of the Girl child’s rightful place for a progressive society. This will only be realized through the adherence of the Principles enshrined in the Universal Human Rights Declaration Document to ensure Human Dignity; Equality ;basic Rights and Freedoms.
In the year 1984,22 Girls in Baringo South proudly underwent the still common Female Genital Mutilation, and graduated as candidates fit for marriage in the unrelenting human quest to continue the survival of the human race –. Marigat Sub-County Maendeleo ya wanawake Chair Salina Chepsaat Sadiki was among the graduates of that year.
She instantly attracted two Marriage suitors after her group came out of their month long seclusion where their diet comprised of millet Ugali, honey; meat and an abundance of milk.
Just imagine meeting a group of some well-fed teenage Girls walking together along a foot path.
Their well-developed ‘chests’ saluting members of the opposite sex; a form of communication where no word is uttered -but a clear message is delivered to the intended audience.
Their young baby faces shining like a mirror’s reflection in the Loboi morning sun. Men of all ages looked at them in great amazement; with their ‘Binocular eyes’, like literally having a glimpse of a real paradise; a garden of flowers in full bloom but now, this story will not dwell much on the ‘’act’’ commonly known as Female Genital Mutilation exercise, but what actually happens to a girl after the act of Genital Mutilation is performed on her .
‘’Immediately after my group and I left our seclusion and graduated to become women; going back to school was my biggest agenda, and only looked forward to getting married after completing my studies and established in my own career.’’ Salina begins the story that takes us all through past the lunch hour…Our writer and she are seated under an old Acacia tree not far from the Bulging Lake Bogoria and the interview is just about to catch fire…, BFN must now escape ; take a back seat and let Salina ,The Baringo South Maendeleo ya wanawake Chair drive this Car till the end of our journey.
She will also open a Can of worms, Lured by Love that befalls every human;she fell into the trap of Teenage Pregnancy ;and as a result of that;survived an attempted abortion after purchasing several tablets of Quinine in Muserechi Trading centre, Eldama Ravine…In her closing Chapter;she will reveal How the Baringo Women Representative Gladwel Cheruiyot Tungo has fulfilled her dream to work as an office woman, and now contributing positively to the well being of all the people of Baringo South!!!
‘’I am the only girl in a family of four children given by God to my most cherished Mother Kabon Chepsaat ,one of the five wives belonging to Mzee Chepsat’s in Sandai village,Baringo south.I have several step brothers and sisters and immediately after joining Loboi primary school in early 1980s, I noticed something very Unique about my Mother, she was not like other mothers. She valued education and wanted me to study hard.
She challenged me to get an education because it will ensure that I earn money after becoming a teacher or a nurse. I don’t know how she got that kind of an idea; she herself being Unschooled. She went out of her of her way to buy pens for me, school uniform and woke me up at dawn to prepare for school daily. She spoke directly to my heart and even in class; I always saw myself completing my school and becoming a teacher. A Female teacher in my school was my role model. She dressed elegantly;looked classy; and smelled so nice. I admired her and really looked forward to looking like her one Day; everybody to address me as ‘Madam’’.
In the month of January year 1984,my mother transferred me from Loboi,all the way to Rabai Primary school near Marigat township;where I joined class Four .I did not know the reason. She approached one of her clans men called Joseph Kwarkwar who still lives within Marigat, and requested his family to host me while I attended the nearby Rabai Primary school. My mother never told me the reason why she moved me from Loboi to Rabai primary school but it later came to dawn on me.
Aware of the then impending Female Genital Mutilation ceremonies scheduled for the 1984 December holidays, my mother was hiding me to ensure the Safety of my Education journey. My mother was aware that my father and brothers were a great danger to my Education because they were planning to marry me off in accordance with our culture; which automatically envisions a girl becoming some ones wife immediately after graduation from the FGM rite of passage.
It surely come to pass because immediately after undergoing the rite of passage, a male admirer tried to woo me for marriage but I turned him down; politely asking him to wait for me until a complete my education. Most of my friends were already married when I went back to Rabai Primary school in the month of January 1985.
I was promoted to class Five and the Marigat family continued hosting me very happily, possibly because I helped them around the house and even at the Irrigation farms. The Lesson was ongoing one morning when a teacher from the staff room come into my class room; and whispered something into the ear of my teacher.
I Salina was asked to accompany the teacher to the staff room and immediately when I stepped out, I saw one of my brothers and a step brother waiting for me. Nothing really crossed my young mind. I was somehow excited because I was homesick; missed my siblings and my adoring mother. Without even exchanging pleasantries, they broke the sad news to me…
‘’Let’s go home immediately because our mother is dead’’ my own brothers broke the sad News to me and my legs started shaking. My mouth became dry and in a distant, my ears captured a false sound of an approaching storm. The ground under my feet began spinning and like a spirit possessed person, I left my brothers behind and started running towards home from Rabai ;towards Sandai -Tuyono Village where we lived at that time. From a distance, I saw a crowd of people and smoke coming from our home. I was sure that my mother is gone and that the mourners had gathered .Once I stepped into the compound; I expected a group of women to rush towards me before I could collapse to the ground but turned out that gathering was not actually mourning my mother, my mother is alive and kicking even as you read this. My brothers abused my emotions very badly, Lying to me that my Mother is dead!!!Turned out that the gathering was there to attend my wedding ceremony; a ceremony i was not even aware off…!!! My mother looked at me and sobbed in silence. I still remember what she said to me..
‘’ I Have Lost the war, I wanted you to get and Education but now you must go to your husband; your father and brothers have been paid the dowry in full. Don’t refuse to go or else they will beat you like what they did to me last evening ’’ my mother whispered to me with a lot of sadness and turned out that my father had beaten her some days earlier; for the ‘’ crime’’ of ‘’helping me to stay away from home to avoid marriage’’.
A million thoughts were crossing my mind that evening. My mother in Law was on standby to escort me to her home the next morning, to begin life as a wife to her son. In front of my father and brothers, I acted as if I really enjoyed getting married; and even told one of my brothers about schooling not being that enjoyable for me; and how I had really longed to ‘’go to my house’’. Little did they know that I was just about to unleash a trick that most girls in the Endorois Land could not dream of during that time!!! I was determined to turn the tables against them.I knew the man who had already paid for my dowry.I did not Love him at all.He wasn’t even my type for a boyfriend. In line with our Endorois cultural norms and traditions, very early in the next morning; my new mother in Law and I began the journey towards my new home where my husband was waiting for me with a lot of excitement; like the way they wait for a visiting Head of State. I was given a special stick and a calabash of milk to signify wealth and blessings in my new home. My mother in Law was too excited as I walked behind her but somewhere along the way I excused myself. ..
‘’I have a terrible running stomach’’ I told my mother in Law ,handed the stick and the calabash of milk to her before vanishing into the bush with my skirt lifted so high above my knees….