The desire to be a part of the Pokot culture in Kenya has brought a lot of anger towards American missionary Trizah Estes and her husband Tony Estes who decided to go through all the traditional Pokot wedding rites including the banned female genital mutilation (FGM).
The traditionally wedded couple who has lived in Paka Hills in Tiati, Baringo County, for 10 years is being criticized for contravening Kenya’s Act (2011) which criminalizes the execution, procurement, and providing a space for FGM.
Trizah Estes was alleged to have undergone the FGM in a video report filed by local TV channel K24 and reported by several online news sites even though other TV channels that covered the ceremony did not state that piece of information.
Her husband, Tony Estes, paid dowry of camel and presented food, drinks and money as part of Pokot culture before they took their vows after a long walk from the bride’s adopted house to the groom’s house where they drank Mursik (a traditional fermented cow or goat milk), ate camel meat amidst music and dance by dozens of locals who joined them.
“It has been a blessing for me to be able to do this and be accepted by these people. I have been able to pay a dowry of a camel, food, drinks and also money,” said Tony.
The couple, who introduced Christianity and medical services to the town, were given Pokot names as a form of welcome into the tribe. “This Pokot tribe, according to Kenyans is considered as a fierce tribe but I do not find them that way at all. These are just people trying to survive, I minister to them and show them the way of God,” said Trizah.
I’m the first known person to come and help them. You know when I first came here in 2009 there was no road but, now there is one, it used to take me about 2 days to get up here,” she added in the interview with K24.
Here are some reactions to the FGM allegation reported by K24:
A white missionary…marries in a traditional pokot wedding after living & working in Kenya for 10 years…thinks having his wife under go FGM is a good idea,what the fudge?@mx_chichi @shiku_nyambura— Khatlady (@HerStoryAfrica) July 22, 2019
Angalia hawa sasa?https://t.co/U5nlT3txmx
FGM is also ban in the US. @TonyMwebia @EndingFGM @StateHouseKenya American bride ‘undergoes FGM’ in Pokot traditional wedding – VIDEO – @NimkoAli Hope the authorities are aware of this. https://t.co/jJAjVB9YOp— Alimatu Dimonekene (@TheAlima) July 21, 2019
US missionary undergoes outlawed female circumcision before saying I do in Pokot— MuthuiMkenya ?? (@MuthuiMkenya) July 22, 2019
She left tongues wagging after she underwent the outlawed Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) before walking down the aisle in a traditional ceremony.
This negates anti FGM campaigns in Baringo and pokot which also have among the highest rates of child marriages— George Owiso (@owisoke) July 21, 2019
This kind of cultural relativism is utterly horrible,dangerous, wrong. Women’s rights & human rights activists,such as @NimkoAli are working so hard to save young girls from the despicable practise of #FGM and these people are legitimising it, what a shame https://t.co/oKxCHitiF4— Elif Şafak / Elif Shafak (@Elif_Safak) July 21, 2019
The Prohibition of #FGM Act is applicable to everyone within the jurisdiction of Kenya and no one is above the law! so @ODPP_KE @fidakenya @KEWA @KELINKenya this needs to be investigated because it undermines the efforts to eliminate #FGM #EndFGM https://t.co/ufQQ1oLF5u— #MenENDFGM (@TonyMwebia) July 21, 2019
A possible logical path (full of fallacies) for the news about wedding and FGM.— Adriano Pedrana (@adrianopedrana) July 22, 2019
– They got married according to Pokot traditions;
– Pokot traditions demand FGM;
– FGM took place.
I’m so confused.— Jess M ? (@moongirlmusing) July 21, 2019
This woman insisted on having FGM so that she could have a traditional Pokot wedding? Is that right? Or was she told that it was a requirement?