Mbale. The Bamasaba have demanded for an apology from the State minister for Gender and Culture, Ms Peace Mutuzo, over her proposal to have Imbalu practice among the Bagisu banned.
Ms Mutuzo labelled the biennial circumcision ceremony as barbaric.
Imbalu’ brings together all the Bamasaba people in both Kenya and Uganda.
While briefing the media ahead of celebrations to commemorate International Day of Family which was celebrated on May 15, Ms Mutuzo said: “The people of Mbale should stop dehumanising the habits of circumcision which are invoking sexuality. The ‘Imbalu’ culture is really a backward one. It’s important for men to circumcise but we would wish to encourage people to do it in a manner that gives dignity to those young men.”
Addressing journalists on Monday at his home in Mbale Town, the king of the Bamasaba (Umukhukha) Bob Mushikori said the minister must openly apologise to Bamasaba as soon as possible.
“On behalf of Bamasaba in Uganda and Kenya I demand that Ms Mutuzo publicly apologise immediately and tell us why she chose to comment like that,” Mr Mushikori said.
He added: “There is no way Imbalu can be banned because it’s our culture which has survived for more than 200 years. We have had ministers like her but we have never received such comments.”
According to Mr Mushikori, Ms Mutuzo’s comments have, not been welcomed by the Bamasaba both in Uganda and Kenya.
He, however, advised the minister to learn more about the Bamasaba culture before criticising them.
“It is sad to hear such comments from the minister. She has insulted the Bamasaba. While President Museveni is fighting to unite Ugandans, some leaders are trying to divide them,” he said.
The Umukukha said the minister has a hidden agenda which needs to be investigated arguing that the Imbalu practice attracts tourists in the region from across the world.
Mr Sam Wambaka, an academic in Mbale said: “Uganda has very many tribes and each tribe has its identity. The Bagisu are identified by circumcision.”
Mr Wambaka revealed that in Bugisu, women are not permitted to comment on the issues of circumcision and they don’t attend the ceremonies.