View Full Version : Kisumu man who maimed himself for love

Saturday, January 17th, 2004, 04:41 PM

Kisumu man who maimed himself for love.

After the shock and pain of mutilating himself "to keep his marriage intact", Alfonse Mumbo is not just healing. He is prepared to take life?s challenges head on, writes Baraka Karama

Alfonse Mumbo is well known in the lakeside city of Kisumu, where he worked as a barber for 10 years until he retired early this year due to illness. His former customers fondly call him Ombala.

On May 11 this year, Mumbo, already famous as "Fundi wa Nywele", earned himself another reputation. He chopped off his penis and testicles with a kitchen knife "to teach his wife a lesson", then buried them.

Mumbo with his wife, Penina at their Kajulu home.

The 38-year-old man shocked his native Kajulu Wath Orego village.

A sombre mood descended on the village as the news spread. Nothing like this had been witnessed there before.

Neighbours told the police that Mumbo had been accusing his wife Penina of unfaithfulness and so he severed his genitalia "to give her a free hand to go after other men." He said he loved her so much, he could make the sacrifice.

News of the incident soon spread throughout the country, courtesy of the media. It left many people wondering just how far love can drive a man. Mumbo, by this act, rendered himself "useless". He would never be a man again, in the African sense of the word. Many observers were heard suggesting that the man could as well have killed himself.

Were it not for the quick response of his neighbours, Mumbo would not be alive and bestriding Kajulu Wath Orego village with a new repute to his name. Some people admire the courage of mutilating himself like that for the sake of his marriage while others look at him with fear.

From his Wathorego home, he recalls the happenings of the fateful day vividly.

" It was around 8 o?clock in the morning when I started feeling dizzy. My wife had left for the farm. I don?t know what came over me. All I remember is walking around the compound anxiously and answering many calls of nature.

"I found myself disgusted with the penis and decided to cut it off. I went into the kitchen, took a knife, undressed and just chopped it off. The knife was too sharp and before I realised what I had done, it was too late." Blood was already gushing out of the gaping hole in his crotch. Amid sharp pangs of pain, he burst out screaming.

Penina came home 10 minutes after the incident, chaperoned by her brother-in-law, to find her husband lying unconscious in a pool of blood. Mumbo was taken to the New Nyanza General Hospital, where medics had a hard time stemming the blood jetting out of the severed part.

As she left for the farm that morning, nothing could have prepared Penina for the imminent shock. Her husband had neither shown any signs of anger nor indicated he had a problem.

So, did she have the alleged affairs outside marriage?

"Hapana, mimi nampenda sana bwanangu, singefanya hivyo (No, I love my husband very much, I could not do that to him)," she says, tears welling in her eyes.

The 29-year-old woman feels sorry for her husband and pleads with people to stop blaming her for his misadventure.

"I never did anything wrong. I have been very faithful to my husband," says Penina. While confined to a hospital bed for close to two months, Mumbo?s physical wound healed gradually. His psychological wound, though, would remain sore for a long time. He had difficulty coming to terms with his new status. People viewed him with suspicion and contempt. Only a handful showed sympathy, encouraging him to creep out of his self-inflicted disability.

Before he left the hospital, doctors introduced an artificial urethra in his bladder to help him pass urine.

Back to his Kajulu Wath Orego village, Mumbo is ready to move on with life and fend for his family. Members of the family have received him well.

" There was a time I just felt like I wanted to die, but not any more," he says. Penina, his wife of six years with whom he sired five children, shares the pain of the loss.

She is the second wife, and lives with four children left behind by the first, who died sometime back.

Penina says she has had to adapt to the new life and is happy it has been fine so far. With Mumbo taking bold steps towards recovery, she hopes he will function again as the head of their household. The children, ridiculed because of their father?s act, have also weathered the storm at school.

"When I am walking around the village or going on safari, those who recognise me talk about me in low tones," says Mumbo.

He is disappointed by the people?s failure to understand his situation.

However, Mumbo has come to terms with his condition. He had been taking a nap outside his mud house when we visited his home. He was welcoming and willingly ushered us into the house. Although he looked weak and exhausted, we realised, at the end of the interview, that he is strong-willed and ready to overcome all odds.

"Awinjo matek (I am really suffering). Nok a timo gini nikech ahero. Ne en tuo (I did not do this out of my wish. I was sick)," he says.

Mumbo, the first-born in a family of four, says the absence of his manhood has made him undergo a lot of psychological torture. But he will not harm himself again.

Penina says that ever since her husband chopped off his manhood, she has never had any desire to sleep with a man.

She has vowed to stick by her husband till death does them part.

She says she has learnt to outgrow the stigma and look after her family. While Mumbo heals, Penina takes care of the family?s needs.

Sigrun Christianson
Saturday, January 17th, 2004, 05:15 PM
Ah yes, that is true love. ;)

Saturday, January 17th, 2004, 05:33 PM
:-O For some reason I would have never thought of cutting off my own junk to show my love. I'm so surprised about this that I can't even think of some witty comment.

Saturday, January 17th, 2004, 06:56 PM
We can only hope that every male in his village, then country, follows suit.