Madame Anna Namarat Enole Sina – truly ‘One who has seen hot Sun’ by Damon Gerard Corrie
I first met Madame Anna Namarat Enole Sina of the 20,000 person Ogiek Tribal Nation of Kenya – at the Tribal Link Project Access Global Capacity Building for Indigenous Peoples Training Course, held May 2012 in New York City; USA.
Anna founded the Natodua Jua Kali Women’s Association in Kenya in September 2010, and the English translation of the first three words means ‘One who has seen hot Sun‘…a very apt description for anyone who works very hard and it applies to the difficult lives most indigenous women lead – and it is for women such as these that the organization was formed.
I think it is also an appropriate name for this article to use to describe Madame Anna, rest assured that by the time you have reached the end of this page you will know why; and will concur with me without hesitation.
Madame Anna did not have an easy life, as a child she was a victim of female genital mutilation; it may seem shocking to be hit so hard so soon in this article by a personal revelation of what is perhaps one of the most heinous of ‘cultural practices‘ in the world…but it was freely admitted to me, and I prefer to provide you with an ugly reality so that you may decide to help this good woman to change it for the better….rather than write a fictional account that omits a gut-wrenching reality – in order not to assail your emotional senses.
Please, for the next few minutes; try to imagine yourself as a young Ogiek girl of 9-12 years old.
How would you feel if your mother, aunts, father and grandparents tell you that ‘the time has come and you are now ready to become a woman‘…the thought of ‘graduating‘ from playing carefree games with other children one day – and satisfying the lust of a grown man the next day is terrifying enough…but that is not all.
Your mum, aunt, maybe granny as well …will first hold you down and ‘cut-off your bits‘ (as some ‘sanitarily‘ describe it)….usually with a piece of glass or razor – which may or may not be new or sterile.
It is terrible enough when one imagines the screams of these little girls who are forced to submit to this trauma against their will…but what may be worse, is the fact that many other girls voluntarily submit to this crime against the dignity of womankind – because they are convinced BY THEIR OWN FEMALE ELDERS that if they do not ‘they will not become a real woman‘ or get a husband.
You see, in this society the girls who are circumcised wear a different attire to the not-yet circumcised girls, and the men know that a girl is ‘ready‘ to be taken as a wife when they see the change in attire.
To make matters worse, these poor girls do not even have a choice in who will take them to be his primary or ‘additional’ wife! It could be a young man, or some geriatric one that acquire’s them – as though they were a mere commodity. Don’t think it can get any worse at this point ? Think again!
- Let us put this into an abbreviated and sad perspective:
Robbed of a childhood, physically tortured and scarred for life by members of your own family, traded like a commodity to a man you do not know or love, essentially raped and physically damaged before you have even become a teenager, and beaten at will by your husband for the rest of your life without even the possibility of ever enjoying physical intimacy if you are ever lucky enough to find your true love one day – which is one of the most natural and beautiful things that two human beings can share in this life.
I am a father of two daughters myself, and I support most traditions; but circumcision, domestic abuse, arranged marriages & underaged marriages are NOT ‘traditions‘ I can or would ever support. When a traditional practice which is as morally reprehensible as female genital mutilation is being practiced – and survivors like Anna are trying to stop it, I think the onus is on ALL of us to do everything we can to support and help her; only a demented person would try to justify this crime under the guise of ‘cultural practices‘.
NO ‘traditional practice‘ that causes such permanent damage to it’s victims should ever be allowed to continue into the 21st century.
This has been dubbed the ‘information age‘, so let us support local heroes like Madame Anna in their work to inform the ill-informed of the world – so that millions of baby girls born this year and in the future will NEVER have to suffer as millions of innocent girls have in the past and present.
Tribal link is one such compassionate entity that has stepped up to the plate (to use an American Baseball expression) and IS actively supporting Anna’s Natodua Jua Kali Women’s Association, the grant they provided in September 2010 allowed for a workshop to be held which educated 75 indigenous women.
The Women’s Association does a lot more than work to eliminate female genital mutilation, they also teach the women to learn craft-making skils which helps them to earn a supplementary income, educating communities about HIV and AIDS – even to providing food to HIV positive mothers and taking their children to school!
- In Madame Anna’s own words:
“I am happy to be here at the United Nations Permanent Forum, but I did not come to see tall buildings made of glass…
I learned that we are not alone in this world, that there are other indigenous peoples just like us all over the world who are suffering. I found out from the Tribal Link training course that this United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues is the place where Indigenous People’s have a real voice to discus our issues with the best hope of finding solutions.
I thank Pamela Kraft and Tribal Link for making it possible for us to be here – and for giving us this Global Capacity training…we very much appreciate it; it has opened up the world to our people.
You know, my people have never met Pamela…only heard about her, but everyone knows her name and says she is a good woman for what she has done – and continues to do for us and so many others.”
- Damon Gerard Corrie
Autodidact Indigenous Rights Journalist; Project Access Global Capacity Building For Indigenous Peoples Training Course 2009-2010 Graduate, and Presenter for the May 2012 Training Course.
Damon is also the Founder/President of the Pan-Tribal Confederacy of Indigenous Tribal Nations (www.pantribalconfederacy.com) & Barbados Representative of the United Confederation of Taino People (UCTP); and CARICOM Commissioner on the Indigenous Commission for Communications Technologies in the Americas (ICCTA). A registered participant in the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), Member of the Indigenous Caucus of the Americas working group (since 2000) on the Draft Declaration of the Americas; and Sole Caribbean Representative on the planning committee of the 4th Indigenous Leaders Summit of the Americas (ILSA) – both at the Organization of American States (OAS).