Posted in Poetry

The first cut – a song against FGM/FGC


by Noel Ihebuzor 

I wait eyes half closed stilling myself,

seeing all around dimly,

heart pounding and racing,

sweating, shivering.


Then the blade flashes fast,

tears down, biting

deep into loose flesh, full lips

my body all tense,  

uncontrollable shivers and tremors,

another slash, the lips are gone,


a spurt, a splash

then the gush of running wet red spreads slowly,

and swells and swells, emptying me,

stunting me, marking and hurting.


The pain in my head stings, stuns and swells,

throbs banging,

pain plays discordant persistent jarring strokes,

hammering pounding,

my flesh now raw, red and ragged.


My sobs of pain and bewilderment

are drowned in the jubilant ululation of aunties

while mother looks on,

sharing my pain, not speaking,

lips trembling as I tremble, lips sealed,

recalling her own past and initiation,

an unwilling accomplice to a stubborn slow to die practice

that slashes, gores, gashes and stunts portions of life of the living

in keeping with the hollow voice of an outmoded moribund tradition.   


Development and policy analyst with a strong interest in the arts and inclusive social change. Dabbles occasionally into poetry and literary criticism!

8 thoughts on “The first cut – a song against FGM/FGC

  1. Ah, Noel–see? Here you have addressed FGM as the horror it is, and giving it the voice it’s victims need–30 lines, compared to the 3 or 4 I gave it in my poem. The poor young girls–hearing women they trust celebrate after they have been mutilated; and the poor, voiceless mothers, remembering their own horror and re-living it through their daughters’ pain.

    Tradition cannot die fast enough, in this instance.

    Of course, I am continents away from this practice; insulated inside borders where the worst that happens to a woman (culturally, not personally–that’s another kettle of fish entirely) is she gets paid less for the same work a man does, or cannot play golf in men-only clubs.

    We western women need to stop rallying around these issues, and roar with outrage against FGM/FGC, stoning, etc., like the lionesses we say we are.


  2. Traditions are slow to die but change has commenced and tradition cannot stop that train of change. Men and women, fathers and mother, uncles and aunties, brothers and sisters are now realizing that FGM was justified and marketed on a very faulty and faulted logic. In actual effect, this gross barbarity and infringement of the rights of a human being did not deliver on the much vaunted benefits – the taming/suppression of female sexuality – rather it often led to frustrations and forays related to that sense of frustration. More and more societies are beginning to abandon the practice…and incidentally men and women are the happier for this development …and for very obvious reasons! The explosion of voices indeed are celebrating the beauty, the joy and expressivity of full lips!


    1. Abigail,
      The intention is to call attention to the pain that FGC involves, and to use world reaction to and rejection of that unnecessary and avoidable pain to provoke a global rejection of that harmful traditional practice. Thanks for reading and commenting.


  3. Noel,
    This is a powerful and painful description of an ancient tradition. Especially when you refer to the mother’s silent complicity. This vivid description is remarkable and profound.


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