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Can Cultural Corporal Punishment be Justified in This Day And Age?

by Helen Ndubi
2 mins read

A video circulating online of a man with hands tied at the back and lying on the ground while being mercilessly whipped by older men has drawn mixed reactions. It was not clear who these people were and why they were administering the strokes of the cane. But they were speaking in a language that sounded like Maa, and which was reinforced by their attire. 

Some of the people who have seen the video said it was primitive justice that has no place in the modern world. Others found the video hilarious, wondering what kind of crime he could have committed to deserve that kind of punishment. The grown-up man was rolling around on the ground and crying like a little baby. 


Those familiar with traditional justice said the man was most likely being punished for committing adultery. Certain behaviour is considered taboo in some cultures. Adultery, incest, fornication and stealing are crimes that are also forbidden in the Bible. Some communities still practise the crude village punishment to date. 

For instance, in the Bunyore sub-tribe of the Luhya community, banishment from the village or ostracisation are common punishments for committing the crimes of witchcraft and sorcery.

Among the Kikuyu, one committing a heinous crime such as murder would be put inside a beehive and rolled down a hill and one would crash and get killed. The Kisii are well-known for killing people being suspected of being witches or wizards.

A study carried out in Kampala says that if a father took to drinking too much alcohol and abandoned his children and wife, he would after being interrogated, receive six strokes of the cane to remind him to perform his fatherly duties.

Traditions were entrenched in Africa to ensure that men and women performed their respective duties

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