So it turns out circumcision is a big deal after all.

Circumcision is a big deal after all

By Rose Odengo January 21, 01:04 pm
'I don’t want your wife coming to me complaining about an elephant trunk,' a dear friend warned her son who wondered if he really had to get circumcised.

While hilariously false, the statement did make me realise how much young people relate circumcision to adulthood.

One in three

When I was once snooping around the house as a child, I came across a letter written by my cousin asking his father if he could get circumcised. It was my first taste of what a big deal circumcision is in our society. But it’s also universal: according to WHO, it’s estimated that 30 per cent of the globe’s male population is circumcised, and the ritual is most prevalent in Muslim, Jewish, and African communities.

By age 12, boys would start asking each other whether they would get 'it sorted', according to a male friend who spent his school days in Nairobi City. And any boy who didn’t get circumcised was a pariah – even to the girls. And this peer pressure is not limited to ethnicity. Even before Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) became the new sexy HIV prevalence check measure, the Luo community – who are often perceived as not practising circumcision – were already having their male babies snipped in the 1980s and 90s.

Not man enough

Later, I heard about another boy who hadn’t been circumcised during the 'cherry popping period' of adolescence. The price he paid was that his cherry did not get popped. A girl even told him that without circumcision, he wasn’t man enough to handle his business. And so, this young man got himself trimmed in the name of getting some panty action.

Such stories make me realise just how much pride is associated with circumcision. When a friend’s teenage brother got circumcised, she recalled that he returned home with a new spring in his step. She even thought that he came across as slightly more mature. For him, the act had obvious meaning: he was now a man and had to fend for himself. And even his sister shared this certain understanding of manhood.

Huge significance

So does circumcision just come down to peer pressure? A male friend told me: no. He had very much looked forward to becoming a man. For him, it wasn’t pressure but graduation.

My nephew is about to undergo Confirmation, the Christian rite of passage, and even during his classes they often discuss circumcision. So I guess as long as we are in a society that places so much significance on circumcision, manhood will always be considered just a snip away.

But it’s my hope that these young chaps realise manhood is more than minor surgery and that it encompasses more than what happens to your genitalia.

How important is circumcision to you? Leave a comment below or join the discussion on Love Matters Naija and Kenya.

Did you learn something new?

It is very important for it keeps aman clean and reduses chances of STI and HIV by 60% and chances of your partner getting cervical cancer is 0.
Hi Alex, unfortunately, cleanliness will not reduce the chance of STIs and HIV. Condoms will. And cervical cancer is caused by a virus called HPV, that's very common. Passing it on is also not dependent on cleaning the man, but on the man using condoms.
As long as we are clean and wash it thoroughly as part of our bathing routine, it never gets dirty, and it's natural. On my visits to Ghana, even my friends (males) think my willie is obscene (lol). It is said those circumcised lose somewhat of the sensation and pleasure love making brings, I don't know how true this is
Thank you Dick for your contribution and yes a circumcised man looses sensation on the tip of the penis following the removal of the foreskin. This may work to their advantage sine it may make one last longer. Aside from this, studies have show that circumcision reduces the chances of the circumcised of getting infected with HIV.
Gordon Gombe
Tue, 01/21/2014 - 08:42 pm
Circumsission is not important in any way.It does not add but only subtract something from you.people whopractice and adore it are tarmed as dogs in phillipians 3
Hi Gordon, thanks for your comment. However, we wouldn't like to go so far in the generalizations. Some religions, like Judaism, actually require male circumcision. Other cultures believe the circumcision will help with cleanliness and hygiene. And then there are studies that indicate that the risk of getting HIV is much lower for men who are circumcised. So for many people, circumcision is indeed important. It's okay if it isn't for you, that's your own choice, but it's good to also try to see other perspectives.
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