Kenya’s violence is on one level political, reflecting the rivalry for control between President Mwai Kibaki, a Kikuyu, and opposition candidate Raila Odinga, a Luo. In the election campaign, the fact that Odinga was uncircumcised became an issue: He was seen by some Kikuyus as a “child” unfit to rule because he had not passed through circumcision and initiation.
“They say that those who are circumcised are wiser than the uncircumcised ones,” said John Lallo, 62, of Kibera. “They do it [forcibly circumcise] to teach us to be circumcised so that we can be wise like them.”
The extreme difference in how this discussion is carried out in the United States versus how it’s being carried out by some in Kenya is undeniable.
It is also undeniable that many Americans perpetuate the same type of myth that circumcised males are better than intact males by virtue of nothing more than a stolen foreskin. Circumcised males, parents, doctors, medical organizations, and political organizations all believe this nonsense because it conforms to their subjective preference. They peddle their nonsense in visible contradiction to both evidence and reason, through force, to males who will probably never need or want circumcision.
“Women won’t sleep with him.” “He’ll get HIV.” “He’ll have to deal with smegma¹.” “He’ll be less wise.” The anti-intellectual nature of using such subjective claims to force genital cutting onto a healthy individual should be obvious to a society that views itself as an advanced world leader. Instead, we embrace superstitions. We violate our most basic principles in the process.
We are mistaken in our thinking and actions, despite our high opinion of our collective intelligence. No amount of wishful dreaming can make intention significant in the presence of outcome.
¹ Female genitals produce smegma, too. We don’t cut them as a solution.