This story interested me, for obvious reasons (hint: LuoAmerican.com).
Family gatherings for Collins Omondi once were boisterous affairs here on the verdant shores of Lake Victoria. But in just 11 years, AIDS has killed seven of his uncles, six aunts, five cousins and both his parents. His extended family now consists of one surviving uncle, an aunt and their 2-year-old child -- all of whom have AIDS.I knew that continental Luos did not traditionally practice either male circumcision or female genital mutilation--when I mentioned it before I said that my kinsmen had sense enough to keep the sharp objects away from the "tools." However, I'm sorry to see just how much they have suffered from merely living as they always have. (The article contains some interesting examples of tribal discrimination against Luos due to this practice; discrimination unrelated to HIV, that is.)
Omondi, 28, a tall, broad-shouldered fish trader, has come to believe that a quirk of culture contributed to the decimation of his family. They were Luos, members of the only major tribe in Kenya that does not routinely circumcise boys. The absence of this ritual, Omondi said, helps explain why Luos are dying from AIDS at a rate unheard of among other Kenyans and rare in East Africa.
Within Kenya, roughly one in 17 adults has HIV. Yet among Luo adults, the virus has infected one in five. [SNIP]
Trials in Kenya, Uganda and South Africa have shown that circumcised men are 60 percent less likely to contract HIV.According to Kawango Agot, a Luo and a circumcision researcher, the idea of circumcision is more popular among the younger generations of Luos—especially since many members of the older generations have suffered for maintaining tradition—they’re dead. Agot, whose husband died from AIDs, downplays the culture clash and gets to the bottom line:
What I care about is people are dying.It seems to me, however, that the culture clash is an integral part of that bottom line.
The leader of the Council of Luo Tribal Elders, Meshack Riaga Ogalo—whose body opposes circumcision--believes that another type of culture clash is part of that same bottom line and presents a decidedly different view of the problem at hand. He believes that
the true source of high rates of HIV in the tribe, which is one of Kenya's largest with a population of about 4.5 million, is not the lack of circumcision but the abandonment of traditional culture, especially by fishing communities.Christianity, of course, doesn’t condone “love affairs,” better known as fornication, but I see where the man is coming from.
"Nowadays, because of Christianity [sic] and all kinds of civilization, you introduce something like love affairs. The world is now horrible[...]"
Still others Luos worry about their civil right to remain as they are:
"If you are telling me to get circumcised at this age, it's like telling another tribe to remove the teeth [a traditional Luo rite of passage into adulthood]."Could be. But if one is dead, rights are moot.
Whatever choice you make, brethren, choose to live.
(Thanks to Memeorandum)