Mau Mau War, Female Circumcision and Social-Cultural Identity among the Agikuyu of Kiambu, Kenya

Martha Wanjiru Muraya

Abstract


This paper generates qualitative information on how the Mau Mau war transformed the Agikuyu female circumcision and its implications on women’s roles, value and gender relations among the Agikuyu in Kiambu. The Agikuyu people of Kiambu believed that, in the traditional set up, female circumcision defined gender roles and women’s power to negotiate space with men. During the Mau Mau war, the practice experienced a considerable changes but it persisted with minimal training and ceremonies. The paper uses a descriptive research design which gives a narrative description of the state of affairs as it exists. The source of information is mainly Oral interviews, Archival information, and cross-checked information from written documents. The transformation that took place in the Agikuyu female circumcision rite during the Mau Mau war is analysed within the concept of gender which gives the study a comprehensive relational platform through which gender roles and relations are interrogated. The study concludes that the persistence of the practice during the Mau Mau war was due to deeply rooted cultural identification, and the need for the Agikuyu women and men to negotiate social space and relations. It is evident in this study that during the Mau Mau war the Agikuyu men and women feared to be victimized and to be rejected by the society and therefore they practiced female circumcision for social-cultural approval and affirmation. Also the practice assisted men to preserve their superior values and dominance role during the period of political uprising.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/ijch.v2i2.8619

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