“The Biography of an FGM Survivor”

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My story:

I was born in the great rift valley in Kenya as the third born in a family of five. Growing up my family was loving and caring. My mum was my greatest confidant and we were very close, she was very keen on me learning how to carry out all the household chores. I could babysit my younger brothers as she went to fetch water, hold the goats’ leg as she milked, add firewood to the fire place as she cooked and prepare the mud as she plastered our huts. My elder brothers could always go to school very early in the morning but my mum was never keen on me going to school she preferred me to learn and perfect the different chores. Despite this I managed to join school when I was around eight years as I started following my brothers to school and my mother had no choice but to enroll me. You may be wondering where my father was all this time, well he was busy taking care of his cows, goats, camels and other wives but he could visit us at least twice in a month.

‘All was well and my life was normal’

Life took a turn though on the day I woke up and found myself wet. I had stopped bed-wetting way earlier and I couldn’t understand what was happening to me, “maybe I took a lot of soup the previous night”, I told myself. I was shocked though on getting out of my bed and I had blood on my cloths, “what is happening I wondered”, I could not comprehend. My mother was very tough on me and she always laughed at me or caned me any time I urinated on my bed depending on her mood. Should I inform her or should I just remain silent? I pondered. But this was abnormal I had to inform her, I walked to the goats shed where she was busy milking the goats. “Good morning mum”, I greeted her with my shy voice, “I woke up with some blood on my clothes, I think I urinated blood”, I said. “What did you say”, she asked in an anxious voice. “I woke up with blood on my clothes, I think I urinated …”, before I could finish my sentence my mum jumped high ululating came straight at me and splashed the milk on my face, “she is ready, my daughter is ready”, she shouted. She went round the compound dancing and soon she was joined by her four co-wives.

In less than an hour our compound was filled by all neighbors who joined in the dance. The women were jumping so high I thought they would do a backward somersault any moment. The elderly grandmothers were sniffing their tobacco like the world was coming to an end and they suspected none was available in the afterlife! Even my own grandmother whom I though was too feeble to stand that day could afford to dance. It was like the whole village had been possessed by an evil spirit, I could see the women whispering into each others ears on arrival before they joined the dance and ululation. All this time no one explained to me what was happening, I was really worried and stood next to the goats shed shaking and shuddering like a feeble twig on a lone branch during a tornado.

After several hours of dancing my grandmother ordered me to accompany her into her small hut which was located within the compound. While there she requested me to show her the blood on my little dress. After thoroughly inspecting it and sniffing on my vagina severally she gave out this weird smile that made me sad. Then she sat me down and explained to me that I had become of age and I would undergo a rite of passage in a few days that would usher me to womanhood and prepare me for marriage. All this did not make sense to me little did I know hell was befalling in a few days.

The following few days were marked by celebrations several goats were slaughtered and almost all my aunts arrived. The mood was joyous but still so many unanswered questions lingered in my mind. On the third day all my aunts had arrived and finally my grandmother announced to me the following morning was my big day. That day I could barely sleep my aunts and my mother’s friends sang and danced till dawn. The men sipped their local brews like they were sipping on juice extracted from the forbidden fruit. The traditional drums roared the whole night and the moon shone brightly.


At the break of dawn my aunt came to fetch me from my tiny bed and led me to a group of women who were eagerly waiting outside. On sighting me the ululation got to climax and the drums rumbled like they never did the whole night. All along I remained calm, after all as I was in the hands of my lovely aunts who I had trusted so much and grown to respected since I was young. At no moment did it occur to me I was being led to a slaughter house. No sooner had we reached at the middle of the compound my aunt ordered me to strip naked, at first I thought she was joking but the look on her eyes meant otherwise. I was reluctant and shy how could I strip naked at the middle of this crowd. A fire had been lit and the full moon beamed, everyone was going to see me naked! I could see all my aunts and all the women from my village assembled, the dancing had subsided and now I was the center of attention.

Before I could gather myself, I found myself literally suspended in air and within a flash of a second I was standing in the middle of the crowd naked. Then this elderly woman suddenly appeared from nowhere with her crooked tools and the crowd burst into celebrations. Banana leaves were spread and I was pinned down at the middle of the crowd by my aunts. At this moment I knew all was not well, I tried calling my mother for help but she yelled back and told me to shut up. Not even my aunts or neighbors cold rescue me, my father was nowhere to be seen, all I could see was women staring at me like I was a statue from ancient monument. Suddenly the elderly woman reached for my vagina, I tried closing my legs together and she pinched my thighs mercilessly. At this moment I was already screaming at the top of my voice. I though the women were killing me. All over a sudden I felt a grip at my vagina and someone cutting of my genitals. The pain was unbearable I could feel as the knife teared through my genitals. She cut and cut and cut with no hurry, I screamed until I could not scream any more, the pain went from my vagina to my backbone and spread throughout my body like an electric shock. At this moment I passed out.

I don’t know for how long I was limbo but when I came around I was lying down in this hut that had been built within the days of celebrations. My legs were tied together and I could barely move as my body was numb. I could still hear the singing and dancing going on but with less enthusiast. I guess I passed out again and when I came around I had this burning sensation in between my legs. It was the worst feeling I have ever experienced since I was born, there no words to describe it. But I remembered my Sunday school teacher mentioning the eternal burning in hell, could this be hell in between my legs? I wondered. Allow me to say for the next one week I alternated between ‘hell and hell’. I could barely move, urinating was a suicidal and I thought my world was coming to an end. I still remember vividly the events that ensued from the day I had blood on my clothes (I later came to learn it’s called menstruation) and the memories always brings tears and a dark cloud upon me.

‘Fast forward one year later’

It was my wedding day this old man the age of my father arrived very early in the morning with a herd of cattle and a ceremony ensued. I had not been informed of any preparations, but let me say I cared less, I had lost hope in life after the experience I had in the hands of the people I trusted most when they subjected me to what I came to know as FGM. My life had taken a dive for the worse and suffering was my way of life. Every time I had the menstruation period it was a trip to hell and back. Simply I was like a walking zombie. My father received the cows and we left with my husband later in the evening. The walk was long and we arrived at my new home at around 9 PM. I had been going through training’s on how to treat my husband from my grandmother and my aunts but I took less interest. After having a sumptuous meal prepared by my other three co-wives I went to bed little did I know a long night awaited me

Within no time I was fast asleep just to be woken up by my ‘lovely’ husband. He wanted some ‘goodies’ and was grinning and making some moans like a bull on heat. In no time he was knocking at my vagina door with his ‘crooked weapon’. Whatever followed can only be described as struggle for independence. My vagina had been infibulated and the poor man could barely penetrate me. I had somehow developed a high threshold for pain and lost hope in life so I just let him go for it. He struggled for hours and all he could do was just ejaculate on top of me. I had been advised to buy a razor for my husband to assist but as I said I was less interested in all the advice given. My frustrated husband left the hut for a while and came back with a horn on his hands. He requested me to open up my legs and………

To be continued

Tony Mwebia

Tony Mwebia

Gender Equality Advocate, Writer, Activist & Consultant

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