If you haven’t watched it, we strongly recommend “For the Love of Fatmata,” a powerful documentary by Tyson Conteh. This film sheds light on the tragic death of Fatmata, who bled to death after undergoing circumcision in the Bondo society in 2016. Fatmata’s story is not unique, as there are many more young lives lost to this practice. It is time we address this issue head-on and advocate for change. Just as the issue of guns is politically charged in the USA, circumcision is a similarly contentious topic in Sierra Leone. However, we cannot shy away from it while innocent lives are at stake. It is essential for our culture to evolve, and one approach gaining traction is the concept of “bloodless bondo.”
In the poignant poem by the late Mani Tatafway Tumoe, he vividly captures the pain and sorrow experienced by Fatmata and others like her. He narrates the story of a lady named Fatima and concludes “But when cold steel met tender skin And the red river overflowed the valley Fatima’s heart stumbled And the drums could not stop. No green herb, no songs No dancing spirits could make Fatima smile. Her cries grew weaker The red river flowed. Custom was satisfied, But Fatima died.” This heartbreaking tale exposes the urgent need for change and a shift towards preserving the lives and well-being of our young girls.
While culture is an integral part of our identity, it should never be a barrier to progress or the protection of human rights. We must acknowledge that cultures evolve over time, adapting to new knowledge and understanding. Just as many other cultural practices have undergone transformations to align with contemporary values, it is time for circumcision practices to be reevaluated.
The advocacy for bloodless bondo offers a promising way forward. By promoting an alternative approach that upholds cultural traditions without inflicting physical harm on young girls, bloodless bondo presents a viable solution. This approach allows for the celebration of our cultural heritage while prioritizing the safety and well-being of our girls. It signifies a progressive step towards a society that values both tradition and human rights.
It is our collective responsibility to protect the lives of our girls. We cannot afford to turn a blind eye to the tragedies that continue to occur. By embracing bloodless bondo, we can break the cycle of harm and create a safer environment for our young girls to thrive. It is time for politicians and leaders to step forward, engage in meaningful dialogue, and support initiatives that protect the rights and lives of our future generation.
“For the Love of Fatmata” should serve as a wake-up call, shedding light on the tragic consequences of female circumcision in Sierra Leone. We must confront this issue, challenging the status quo and advocating for change. Let us work together to evolve our cultural practices, protect innocent lives, and build a more inclusive and compassionate society for all.