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

‘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.

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Recent Comments (14)

  1. circumcission has no meaning
    circumcission has no meaning since IT lucks credibility

    1. Hi Faiz, thanks for your
      Hi Faiz, thanks for your comment. We get what you mean, but would you like to explain it some more in your own words?

  2. It is very important for it
    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.

    1. Hi Alex,

      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.

      1. As long as we are clean and…
        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

        1. Thank you Dick for your…
          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.

  3. Circumsission is not
    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

    1. Hi Gordon,

      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.

        1. Hi there, 

          Thank you! Keep…

          Hi there, 

          Thank you! Keep visiting Love Matters for more informative content. 

  4. circumcision is equivalent to
    circumcision is equivalent to maturity in our african tradition ,after circumcision one is seen as a grown up n he is given ascent to participate in family n society decision n those dat dnt undergo the ritual are considered coward n they cld earn a seat in the table of men ,circumcision is da key to maturity n it shld b respected n followed to the dot

    1. Hi Frank, thanks for sharing
      Hi Frank, thanks for sharing this insight. People have different opinions when it comes to circumcision, and it’s really good to hear more thoughts and beliefs. Keep commenting please ;-)!

    2. Frank, do humor me. Jewish
      Frank, do humor me. Jewish newborns are circumcised at 8 days old. Where is the maturity at that age? Can they now no longer be considered cowards, given a right to participate in adult societal decision making, property and marriage just to name a few? I surely dont think so, and you know why? because all these are just symbolic but not necessarily practical which is what my point is only. Your culture is yours and yours only. You have every right to believe in it and follow it to the letter but dont use it to condemn others because you feel that it is more superior. In another life you could have been born in Asia, of budhist or Hindu faith and expect that we should all believe in Budha or Ganesh but you wouldnt be able to force us to see the sense in that now would you? Everybody has a right to their beliefs and culture. If yours says cut then cool, for those that don’t, let them be.

  5. Of all pro circumcision
    Of all pro circumcision arguments, the one that discusses ‘relative’ HIV/STI infection reduction rate is the only one that is worth a listen. Circumcision is just a cultural and religious symbolic act which if we try to consider in todays lifestyle, few people are staunchly religious and even fewer are cultural. 30% of the worlds men are circumcised which means the other 70 have been doin just fine without the cut. Infact the other 70 are from parts of the wolrd that do better than us and have taught us almost everything we know and do on a daily basis not to mention how much we still rely on them. In Africa circumcision now nothing but a tool used to propel political hatred. You may be circumcised to believe you are an adult but still behave like a toddler as do many amongst us. All we should be encouraging is peace hygiene and respect for one another based on principle and ideology and for that reason circumcision should be a matter of choice rather than cultural or religious compulsion.

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