The Nyaturu people of Singida region in Tanzania practice clitoridectomy (partial or total removal of the clitoris), a type of female genital mutilation (FGM), as a cultural practice, along with different types of scarification.
The word went out that if any native were asked by the authorities about the status of this unwanted cultural practice, then one had to convince and assure the authorities that Nyaturu people were obedient and the practice of FGM no longer occurred among them.
This history and the experiences recalled by Chiku Ali, who is originally from the Nyaturu ethnic group, Singida region, have long been forgotten by her ethnic group, her family and she herself.
In the late 1960s and early 70s, the Nyaturu ethnic group experienced a clash with the outside world and a clash with the authorities in the independent Tanzania.
Of the 120 different ethnic groups in Tanzania, FGM had always been widely practised by 12 ethnic groups living in seven of Tanzania's 24 regions: the Gogo, the Rangi and the Sandawi of Dodoma, the Nyaturu of Singida, the (hagga of Kilimanjaro, the Waarusha of Arusha, the Luguru of Morogoro, the Maasai, the Iraqw, the Barbaig and the Hazabe of Manyara, and the Kurya of Mara region.
The invention of lawalawa by the Nyaturu spread to the Gogo and the Masai.
The aim of this article is to look into the rationale behind the Nyaturu decision to do such things; the hypothesis is that they circumcised and extracted the teeth of the children to prevent what was believed to be a national calamity.
In 1970, for example, outbreaks of the genital injection known locally as lawalawa occurred in Dodoma and Singida in central and northern Tanzania among the Nyaturu ethnic group (Omari 1974).
To the Nyaturu and Gogo people, lawalawa was and is a mythical curse from the ancestors who are feared by all and at the same time are the protectors of those who have got lawalawa.
The Nyaturu, Gogo and Masai in Central Tanzania are regularly victims of droughts.