Deep Dives. Part Two.

After primary school in Nakuru, she had gone back to Narok and undergone the Maasai girl rites of passage. Had it been a few decades earlier, the rite would involve the cutting off of the labia in a four-day ritual. She would have been dressed up in the best clothes and the finest of the traditional jewellery. She would get blessed by the elders using milk and cow blood to represent the way of life of her people. The whole community would sing songs; while their mothers would teach them how to please their husbands sexually and socially. All this would be beautiful, but earlier in the morning of the fourth day the same knife would be used to chop off the clitoris and labia of more than twenty girls. Nataana would have been expected to be strong; she would have been expected to be a warrior woman and not scream when it came to that moment. Her mother and other women would continue singing about Emuratta and Enkiama. Good girls get circumcised and then married, the song would say.

As the blade cuts off her numb skin, Nataana would be shaking profusely like a twig on an elephant’s footpath. She would be shaking not only because of the time she spent submerged in the cold river water but because of the pain of having surgery without an anaesthetic. She would try to scream in pain, but no sound would come out, and she would be glad because her mother did not have to hear her become weak. It would be over now; a few scattered stitches would be put in place to replace the chopped off body parts. Sometimes these stitches will go all the way making urinating tough, but at least it would be over now. From that, all that follows is food, good healthy food in a closed room for a month until she healed. On a good month out of the twenty girls with Nataana, eighteen would heal completely without an infection.  Nataana would be among them because she is a fighter. She would leave her hut and never see the door of a secondary school classroom because she would get married off immediately. She would know what pain is, not by reading or by tales, but through experience. A strong woman who would then be expected to give birth to a baby less than a year after such an ordeal.

But days like those were gone and forgotten. In 2009, she was lucky the Emuratta of girls had been banned in the country. Now there was just Eokoto e-kule and Enkang oo-nkiri that consisted of meat and milk from cows and not humans. After primary school, Nataana joined other girls in a three-day long session about sex education, human rights, and self-confidence. Instead of mountains being set on her education, she was empowered to study and compete alongside her male age mates. She wanted to be a pharmacist. Off she went to secondary school back in the city and then to university where I met her.