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Mum’s refusal to have her 5-year-old daughter circumcised tears families apart in Ekiti

Against the back­ground of a child Rights Law that guides against
harmful cultural practices on children in Ekiti State, two families: the
royal family of Olaoye in Ushi-Ekiti and the Oyenekan family are at
loggerheads over the circum­cision of a 5-year-old girl.

According to SUN, the once rosy
relationship between both families has now turned sour following a
disagreement over the circumcision of their 5-year-old daughter, (name
of baby withheld).

Miss Olufunke Oyenekan, mother of the 5-year old girl and fiancee to
Mr. Emmanuel Olaoye, son of the Olaoyes, a royal family in Ushi-Ekiti,
Ekiti State, had disagreed with the Olaoyes over their decision to
perform the traditional circumcision rites on her daughter. The woman,
sensing that her husband’s family wanted to perform the rites by all
means, fled with her child from the Olaoye’s family house in Ushi Ekiti
in 2012 and her whereabouts has since remain unknown.

Recently, the Olaoye family again raised the alarm through a
representative, identified as Chief Olu Olaoye over the sudden
disappear­ance of Olufunke and her daughter. The family said that their
son’s fiancee did not mean well for the family by preventing them from
per­forming the circumcision rites on the child. Their explana­tion is
that it is a mandatory cultural practice to have all their children
circumcised, moreso that theirs is a royal family whose duty it is to
preserve the cultural heritage of the people of Ushi Ekiti in order to
set an example for the people.

“She (Olufunke) is not helping us, neither is she helping our
daughter she has taken away. There are certain cultural practices that
we adhere to in our land, some are avoidable while others are not. This
practice of circum­cision is part of the unavoid­able ones. Olufunke
cannot prevent us from carrying out cultural and traditional rites on
our own blood. It is a must that we do the circumcision rites for the
girl. Moreso, that the child is a princess, a daughter from the royal
fami­ly of Ushi Ekiti and possibly a future regent!.

“We have told them (Olu­funke’s family) that they must ensure that
they produce her because she cannot prevent us from performing our
tradi­tional duties. She must bring our daughter for the circum­cision
rites, “ he said, fuming with anger.

Meanwhile, Olufunke has vowed not to allow anyone, even if it is her
husband, to carry out any circumcision rites on her daughter. A mem­ber
of her family, who spoke to Sunday Sun on condition of anonymity
because of the sensitive nature of the matter, said: “As for the
Oyenekan family, we have no problem with whatever the Olaoye family
wants to do with their daughter. In our part of the world, it is the man
who owns the child and has the final say over him or her. But our
daughter, Olufunke is more western-oriented than many of us. She has
vowed not to allow any circumcision for her daughter. She says the
practice might have an adverse effect on the girl in the future. We
would have been able to intervene in the matter to ensure that peace
reigns but right now, I can swear to you that we do not even know the
whereabouts of Olufunke and her child. In fact, we learnt that her older
son has also joined his mum where she was but we do not have any idea
of where that is. There was a time she took refuge with their pastor in a
church in Abeokuta. The pas­tor assisted in getting the hu­man rights
group to intervene for peaceful resolution of the matter, but the
fiance’ family became violent about the mat­ter, they wanted to get
their daughter by all means. We learnt that Olufunke narrowly escaped
the attack on her and ran off with her daughter. We can only appeal to
our in-laws to exercise patience on this issue till God makes Olufun­ke
to come back, right now, there is nothing anyone can do.”, the man said.

Speaking on phone to the Sunday Sun, Mr. Emmanuel Olaoye,
fiancé to Olufunke, narrated how the trouble over the circumcision rites
started, his words: “My fiancée, Olu­funke Oyenekan and I met in
February14,2006 and we love each other but haven’t mar­ried legally. We
were co-habit­ting and eventually had two kids. A boy and a girl.

“Things went on smooth­ly between us till I lost my father who was a
traditional ruler in Ushi Ekiti, my home town. I received the message of
the death of our royal fa­ther and was told I had been picked as his
successor. So, I went home for the burial rites and took my wife-to-be
and our children with me, actually to ensure that my extended family get
to know her. We travelled to Ushi Ekiti in Jan­uary 1,2012.

“However, we didn’t know that a shocker was awaiting us at
Ushi-Ekiti. My family demanded that we submit our children for
circumcision rites.

Funke, my wife-to-be, didn’t like this arrangement at all. She didn’t
particularly want our daughter, who was then two years and four months
old to be circumcised as she said she didn’t like what she experience as
a woman who was circumcised by her par­ents when she was young.

“But my people won’t be persuaded to spare our daughter of the
treatment because our tradition forbids any of our blood not being
administered the circumci­sion rites.

“My fiancée has since fled with our daughter since the disagreement
in Ushi-Ekiti. As I’m going to succeed my late father as the traditional
ruler of our town, it becomes more mandatory for my children to be
circumcised. Here in our land, it is part of the prerequisites of a
king-to-be to have all his children circumcised. We really do not have a
choice here. But my fiancee sees the practice as barbaric and outdated.
She won’t have any of it for our daughter. “ “That is why she ran away
with our daughter. Our son has also joined her where she is. I want to
be­lieve her people arranged her escape and know her where­abouts but
they are claiming ignorance of it. We once heard she was in a pastor’s
custody in one Bethel Love Church in Abeokuta, Ogun State. My people
went there but she escaped from them and fled to an unknown place with
the children and hasn’t been seen since then. I’m just confused about
the whole development, “ Olaoye said, wearing a defeated, melan­choly
look.

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