Maasailand pupils move drama festivals audience with anti-FGM message


End FGM
Students of Naikarra Primary School from Narok County during the Kenya National and Drama festivals. They presented an End FGM creative dance called “Titoism”. The dance detailed the escape of a girl whose parents were planning to forcefully cut her, but was determined to continue with her education.

Naikarra Primary School students from Narok County have been hailed for their outstanding performance during the Kenya National Drama Festival held at Kisumu Girls High School.

The students, dressed in traditional Maasai attires, took to the podium performing an anti-Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) piece in the festival themed: “Enhancing National values for development”.

The students had their faces painted with mud, some wearing beads and the attire won during the outlawed Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

“This dance is about a girl who was being forced to undergo FGM, but she ran away from home went to the chief, but the chief returned her to the parents so that she can be cut, the girl managed to run away again, she was rescued and taken to a rescue centre, she went to school and when she finished her education, she went back home where the parents were told about the dangers of FGM, they agreed to do an alternative  rite of passage instead of FGM,” Gladys Osongo, a teacher at Naikarra Primary School noted.

The story of the young girl marked a new era, the silence had been broken.

“We want to end it, that’s why we started this dance. Through the dance, song and even the attire people are getting the message,” she added. Narok county has one of the highest FGM prevalence rates in the country.

For the first time since the inception of the Kenya National Drama Festivals, performing arts are being used as a tool to intensify the campaign against FGM and child marriage.

The 58th Edition of the Kenya National Drama Festival, saw the use of edu-tainment to raise awareness on the need for every Kenyan to take part in ending child marriage and FGM.

“The students are at a point where they are forming their norms. So when we start reaching them at that age then we will manage to shift the norms that perpetuate FGM and child marriage,” said Ms Mary Wandia, End Harmful practices Program Manager at Equality Now.

“We want to look at how we can work with the Kenya Drama festivals so that we can encourage the teachers and students to come up with messages against FGM and child marriage,” added Ms Wandia.

End FGM

Pupils from Naikarra Primary School performing at the Kenya National Drama and Music Festival in Kisumu. Photo/CourtesyAccording to the latest data from Unicef, FGM affects more than 200 million women and girls worldwide.

Ms Wandia further noted: “There is a notable decline in the FGM prevalence rate from 38% in 2008 to 21% in 2014, according to the Kenyan Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS). However, medicalized FGM has shot up to 41% according to the latest data.”

She further noted that FGM is a human rights violation deeply rooted in gender inequality and discrimination.

When girls are married off at an early age or taken through FGM, which precedes child marriage in most cases, their health is affected, they drop out of school missing out on life’s opportunities e.g. education, employment and even contributing effectively to the society and the country at large.

Equality now worked with the Kenya National Drama Festivals 2017 to promote performing arts in ending FGM and child marriage by  encouraging the use of art, drama, music and dance in promoting awareness on harmful practices such as FGM and child marriage which are human rights violations banned by law in Kenya.

Through the non-traditional methods and edutainment, the information disseminated during the festival will help in promoting the protection of girls as well as highlighting the impact of harmful practices.

Pupils from Naikarra Primary School and their teachers pose for a photo during Kenya National Music and Drama Festivals in Kisumu. Photo/CourtesyAfter Attending the KNDF planning meeting in January, 26-28, in Nandi County, Equality Now introduced drama teachers in a training session on the harm of FGM and child marriage to girls globally.

The Kenya National Drama Festival is a forum for learners to interact, share and develop positive values and attitudes that will enable them have a sense of self belief, self-sufficiency and a yearning for a state that harness the diversity of peoples’ values, traditions and aspirations.

The hope is that change will be embraced and disseminated by the audience from various parts of the country.

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