By John Malimba Kanu
The Johnson Family of the Four Mile Suburb in the distance outskirt of Western rural of Sierra Leone has intimated this medium about reprisals directed at their family for the escape from a‘Bondo’ bush of their daughter Nacel Johnson where she was bound to be initiated into the female secret society that performs total or partial cutting of the clitoris without any scientific reason.
Massa John a cousin of the escaped Nacel said they had since been subjected to humiliation and harassment and to being called names that demeans their family name such as ‘sham family’ unclean, betrayals, dirty and every word that is derogatory. She explained that their only crime was relating to someone who refuses to have her clitoris cut in the name of culture.
The ‘Bondo’ fugitive Nacel Johnson who lost her sight at the tender age of 2yrs following a brief illness had since her teens insisted she will not be ready to lose another sensitive part of her body after her sense of sight.
According to the Four Mile tradition, every girl before she turn 16yrs must be a member of the female secret society the “BONDO” as an approach to keep sacrosanct the ceremonies and secrecy of the society.
Massa told this press how the now 22yr Nacel who got relocated to Milton Margai School for the Blind where should was able to access a school that accommodates her disability but could often visit her native Four mile community on holidays.
Massa said, Nacel’s exposure to western education where she learnt about the dangers of FGM strengthens her opposition to the practice.
She noted that the visitation narrative changed for Nacel on her last December visit when the Four mile village soweis conscripted Nacel on arrival and took her to their initiation bush on allegation that she was promoting an anti FGM campaign amongst girls whenever she visits the village.
Massa explained that, a teen in the village who happens to be an admirer of Nacel told her how Nacel made her escaped from the hands of her initiators following preparations to take her through the final stages of the ceremonies that will witness the cutting of her clitoris. ‘From nowhere I saw her straying towards the village stream where I was lundering my clothes and had to aid her final escape to Waterloo town’ Massa quoted the girl whose name she did note state for her seeming security.
According to Massa, the Four Mile tradition forbids female conscripts and or initiates who dodges completion of the societal rites to live a normal life are they are often considered as traitors and or unclean and the unlucky ones are sometimes killed in the “Bondo” bush as sacrifice to appeased the gods of womanhood, yet outside the bush an impression of them being sanctioned to be ‘Gbokas’ which makes them unfit to join normal live.
Speaking on the penalty of betrayal, one Four Mile Community elder Pa.SorieKargbo told this medium that those found wanting of putting the name of the society in disrepute are often killed through unconventional means that leaves no room for police investigations.
Family members who had been subjected to persistent harassment to disclose the where about of alleged “BONDO” traitor Nacel told this press on the condition of anonymity for fear of further reprisals from the sowei women that the last time they heardabout her was a month ago in a private clinic in the Eastern part of Freetown where they learnt she was receiving treatment for his itching skin which they went further to explainwas likely the outcome a mysterious powder poured on her by an unknown woman suspected to be a member of the ‘BONDO’ society bush before she fled.
A certain family member muted that should Nacel where about be known anywhere in the country then that will be the end of the road for her, that is if she is still alive. But if she is dead as her silence seems to suggest then the family would have to provide a replacement to appease the Soweis.
In Makeni, one Isatu Turay who identified herself as the aunt of the disappeared Nacel explained her ordeal in the hands of the ‘BONDO’ women since the disappearance of their niece. She disclosed that they had made several complaints to local authorities to look into the matter and put her and the family to safety, but all was to no avail.
What remains a misery is the fact that both the Johnson family and the Four Mile community members cannot confirm the where about of Nacel as we go to press