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Sierra Leone News: Call for ‘Bondo Bushes’ to be transformed to skills centers

A woman Councilor in Kono and a former Sowei in Kono district, Veronica Dauda as stated that it will be good for the development of young girls if traditional bondo bushes are transformed into skills training centers where would-be girls that are not of age eighteen can be brought for skills training while awaiting their time for initiation.
The issue of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a concern to government, non-governmental organizations and some parents regarding the age of initiates and the safety of the process especially at the traditional level.
Traditionally, the process of initiation into the Bondo society was exclusively for young mature women ready for marriage. In the Bondo Bush where the initiation takes place, some argue that it was a sort of recreational center where initiates are trained on how they care for their husbands and home during marriage.
However, following the war, many aspects of this traditional practice were desolated and the Bondo initiation became limited to the FGM. Instead of restricting the practice to young mature women in readiness for marriage; it is now an all for one affair for as long as it is woman. Girls as young as two years can now be initiated into the Bondo society.
The Soweis themselves have expressed dissatisfaction over the trend which the initiation has taken of late especially the inclusion of children.
Councilor Veronica Dauda of Kono has said that over 80% of them have stopped female circumcision of children that are below the age of 18.
She said they have been working with different organizations like AFFORD so that they can transform the Bondo Bushes into skills training centers where these child initiates can learn a lot of things and that the process will not be limited to the art of initiation alone.
She said if these centers are set up, they will enable they the Soweis to also engage in other meaningful activities while waiting for the children to be of age and ripe for initiation.
She mentioned further that the centers will also serve as cultural centers which would be established in all the regions to train would-be girl initiates for thorough grounding into their respective cultures and traditions.
By Betty Milton
Tuesday February 05, 2014

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