Mama Mohabe Marwa is a former cutter who decided to drop her tools. Here she shares her story.
My name is Mohabe Marwa, I hail from Matare village in Mugumu town in Serengeti District. I was born in 1972, and I went to Kibeyo Primary school from 1980. When I was 12 years old, walking from our family’s farm I saw a local old bowl ‘kisonzo’ and an old razor blade appearing in front of me magically. I dropped a hole I was carrying and something pushed me to pick the things in front of me up, I did so and brought them home with me. On arriving home, my grandmother received me and took me inside the house with so much joy.
Up to that moment I didn’t know what was going on, my grandmother then called my parents into the room and told them that, “Your daughter is blessed, she is the chosen one” she went on saying the name given to me was a name to my ancient grandmother who used to be a cutter and that she has now passed on the role to me.
My Dad was a Christian and he said to my grandmother that I couldn’t become a cutter but my grandmother instructed him to get out of the room and that she only called him to see what had happened, not to give comments.
My grandfather had milk in his mouth and spat on my face, telling me when I get married and bore my first kid, I would then become a full cutter. This happened in the year 2016, when I first began doing the cutting work. That year (2016) I cut 650 girls and did this again in the year 2018 where I cut 750 other girls, some of the cuttings went well but others went wrong and ended up with girls bleeding a lot and falling unconscious.
This was disturbing to me and at that point there were awareness messages on the effects of FGM and the punishments given to those that get involved in cutting of a girl by Laws of The United Republic of Tanzania by Hope for Girls and Women in Tanzania under Mama Rhobi Samwelly. This made me stop the cutting work, I dropped my tools and surrendered them to Hope joining the activism against FGM and all forms of Gender Based Violence, quitting my old ways.
My life after dropping the tools has been a lot better, as I have joined Mama Rhobi to create awareness to the community on the effects of FGM to girls in Serengeti District. I have been given the chance to work in the Kurya Cultural Center and as a traditional dance group Coordinator at Hope Mugumu Safe house.
Challenges from some traditional leaders and some fellow community members were still happening because they consider me a traitor to the culture so had been threatening me, but after reporting this to the police, I’m now at peace and receiving no threats.
I look forward to the termination of FGM as I have witnessed first hand the effects it has on girls. I call for the Government and other stakeholders to put in more work towards the combating of this oppressive cultural practice. I also call on other cutters to drop their tools and join the efforts to save other girls from this horrible experience and violation of their rights.
Thank you for reading my story, and let’s keep the fight on comrades.
Translated by Nickson Lukule.