Negotiating Identity: The Intersection of Colonialism, Christianity, and Male Circumcision Among the Abagusii

  • Machoni M. Haron Kisii University
  • Mallion Onyambu Kisii University
  • Evans Nyamwaka Kisii University
  • Peter Gutwa Oino Kisii University
Keywords: Male Circumcision, Abagusii, Cultural Values, Colonization, Culture, Civilization, Christianity, Tradition
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This paper examines how the Abagusii community navigated the imposition of colonial and Christian ideologies on their traditional practices, with a particular focus on the cultural institution of male circumcision. Pre-colonial male circumcision held profound significance within the Abagusii community, serving as a cornerstone rite of passage into manhood. However, the advent of colonial rule and the influence of Christian missionaries precipitated seismic shifts in this practice, upending its traditional significance and social functions. Drawing upon the frameworks of Cultural Diffusion and Diffusion of Innovation, this paper meticulously traces the historical evolution of male circumcision among the Abagusii, delineating the trajectory from age-old rituals to more contemporary practices imbued with colonial and Christian influences. Using a qualitative research design and approach, data was methodically collected from 30 participants selected through purposive sampling. Through descriptive data analysis, thematic patterns emerged, illuminating how external forces gradually reshaped this pivotal cultural institution. Furthermore, the study uncovers how the introduction of Western medicine and education precipitated shifts in the community's perceptions of health and hygiene, catalysing a transition towards medically supervised circumcision procedures. Despite external pressures, the Abagusii community demonstrated resilience by integrating select elements of colonial and Christian practices into their traditional rites, resulting in a hybridised form of circumcision that retained cultural significance while accommodating evolving norms. In essence, the evolution of male circumcision practices among the Abagusii of Southwestern Kenya epitomises a nuanced interplay between tradition and modernity under the sway of colonialism and Christianity. While colonial and missionary interventions sought to suppress age-old rites, the community's adaptive responses ensured the preservation and metamorphosis of these practices. The study advocates for future policies and interventions pertaining to traditional practices to be underpinned by cultural sensitivity and community engagement. By recognizing and honouring the cultural import of practices such as circumcision, stakeholders can facilitate more efficacious and sustainable transformations


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27 May, 2024
How to Cite
Haron, M., Onyambu, M., Nyamwaka, E., & Oino, P. (2024). Negotiating Identity: The Intersection of Colonialism, Christianity, and Male Circumcision Among the Abagusii. East African Journal of Traditions, Culture and Religion, 7(1), 40-54.