Family fled Nigeria to avoid female circumcision in Ibadan

Family fled Nigeria to avoid female circumcision in Ibadan

The birth of any baby heralds unlimited joy into any family. Such was the case when the family of Mr and Mrs Sanusi was blessed with a bouncing baby girl on 11th of November 2023 at a private hospital in Ibadan. Ibadan is the largest city in West Africa renowned as the cradle of the Yoruba’s traditional beliefs and practices. It is in the south-west region of Nigeria and the heartland of the Yoruba.

The naming ceremony on the 8th day was done with much glitz and glamour. It was an admixture of their Yoruba tradition and modernity. The parents were adorned in their sartorial and resplendent Yoruba traditional attires that lent credence to their Yorubaness. The newborn was hale and hearty and suckling well. Local Nigerian dishes and drinks were served generously and attendees relished the joyous occasion with broad smiles. Gifts and memorabilia were given to the newborn and her proud parents. It was an occasion that the couple would remember and savour for a long time to come.


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Before the naming ceremony ( 4 days after delivery), an elderly woman from the newborn’s maternal family visited the new parents to share in the joy of the safe delivery. She sang lullaby to the baby when she was crying deafeningly as she was momentarily taken off the breasts. After some few hours of the visit, she made to go but called the new mother aside and told her that as tradition dictates, the ear-piercing, shaving of the head and female circumcision had to be simultaneously done on the day of the naming ceremony and they should not exceed a month post-delivery. She went down memory lane that it was the practice handed down within the family lineage from generation to generation with which they must comply.

Although Mrs Sanusi was stunned, gobsmacked, dejected, distraught and appalled to the marrow at what she heard, she downplayed her emotional turmoil and relayed the message of the elderly woman to her husband. In order not to disrupt the planned naming ceremony on the 8th day, they decided to play along by only agreeing to the head- shaving and ear-piercing and postponing the circumcision since they had up to a month to comply with the tradition. That was a decoy to douse any tension that might arise from their outright rejection of the planned circumcision.

With utter agony and sadness, both had a united front that they would NEVER allow nativist and evil traditional practices to override their modernity as educated couples.

Before then, they had been inundated with gory pictures and stories of those who refused the traditional practices in the past. In order to save their little baby from the onslaught of evil traditional practices, they decided to do the unthinkable—run away from Nigeria and settle wherever is beyond the reach of the strict traditionalists hell-bent on fulfilling the age-long traditional beliefs and practices of female circumcision.

As holders of their Nigerian passports, they made the unplanned tempestuous trip from Nigeria and refused to succumb to the dictates of genealogical traditions.

Foluso Afelumo

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