By Abdulkarim Ruto
The Sabaot community in Bungoma County marked the Boxing Day in style by holding their Sabaot Culture that brought together members’ of the community.
The community that that was rocked by land chaos and conflict almost a decade ago that saw the rise and fall of the Sabaot Land Defence Force (SLDF) militia came together to remember their cultural history that was attended by senior county officers.
Speaking at the Cheptais Boys High School in Cheptais where the ceremony was held, the Bungoma County Deputy Governor Hillary Chongwony said the community must learn their culture in order to remain relevant in today’s diversified society.
He said the children have lost their identity because the community is not attentive to the positive values of the community that need to be relooked.
“We have lost the culture of our marriage traditions, food, attires and even leadership. Our children do not listen to the old and are ignorant of their culture. We need to relook ourselves,” said Chongwony.
The DG further said that Mt. Elgon is a rich and fertile region but the residents are living in poverty because they have abandoned so much of their conservative culture.
“Our Children have forgotten their language, have no single riddle or proverbs which were considered the breed of wisdom to maturity and which is a great tragic to the development of the societal culture,” Chongwony Said.
He added, “Our traditional dances, songs, attire and customs must be nurtured and supported because it is what unites the people.”
He said the County Government is ready to promote the cultural activities of the diverse communities in the county which enjoys metropolitan communities.
County CEC for Gender and Culture Grace Khaoya said the community should use the culture for economic development and avoid the outdated cultures that interfere with human development such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
“You have a beautiful mountain, a big forest, National Park and even waterfalls that you need to use your rich culture for economical benefit,” said Khaoya.
She said FGM was known to be a rite of passage for the community’s girls but now it’s an outdated thing and there should be an alternative way from the community to the development of girl child.
She added that, “Gender violence in western region is on the rise. I urge the male folk to use their physique and energy to development activities, support children and women rather than using to punish a woman.”
She urged the community to take children to schools and at the same time treat children culturally to instill behavior that will help them identify themselves with their environment and community.
Mt. Elgon Sub-County Administrator Hillary Maasai Bokose urged the community’s elders to start the strategy of instilling cultural values in the youth and children so that Sabaot culture can still remain to be tolerated in years to come.
“You find a youth nowadays who doesn’t know their clan, livestock reared by the clan and names of their age-set. Even counting and talking in the mother tongue is a problem. Let our elders rise up to act on this issue,” he said.
Abdulkarim Ruto is Nepjournal’s Rift Valley region Correspondent. Follow him on twitter @AbdiTaraja