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June 08, 2019 2 min read

Sonyanga Ole Ngais is the captain of Maasai Cricket Warriors and founder of Maasai Cricket Ladies. But his work with these teams is about much more than teaching cricket at local schools. It is about ending the traditional practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Kenya.

The effects of FGM impacted Sonyanga at a young age. After his older sister endured the practice, she was quickly married off and separated from the family. Sonyanga’s awareness of the physical suffering his sister endured, along with the subsequent social and emotional effects, gave him the drive to actively participate in the war against FGM.

Sonyanga Ole Ngais is the captain of Maasai Cricket Warriors and founder of Maasai Cricket Ladies. But his work with these teams is about much more than teaching cricket at local schools. It is about ending the traditional practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Kenya.

The effects of FGM impacted Sonyanga at a young age. After his older sister endured the practice, she was quickly married off and separated from the family. Sonyanga’s awareness of the physical suffering his sister endured, along with the subsequent social and emotional effects, gave him the drive to actively participate in the war against FGM.

By bringing communities together through sports, the Warriors and Ladies have been able to advocate for positive social change. In a society where sports have been an arena exclusively for men, the Maasai Cricket Ladies are challenging the traditional narrative by both learning how to play and encouraging other young women to participate. Women are even competing against men. As a result, a new generation of young Maasai women are being empowered to advocate for themselves—not only on the cricket field, but in everyday life.

In an effort to continue combating harmful and discriminatory practices against women, Sonyanga has now founded Maasai Basketball Warriors and Maasai Basketball Ladies. As one traditional saying goes: the eye that leaves the village sees further. The hope is that these basketball teams will not only facilitate further community building in Kenya, but also create an opportunity for Maasai youth to travel to the United States. This experience will allow them to experience a culture that does not subscribe to the assumptions about the sexes that they are so accustomed to. They can then bring those observations home and continue the fight against FGM, early marriages and the general lack of equal rights that is unfortunately prevalent in Maasai life.

Empowering women and educating them on the importance of avoiding FGM  while simultaneously encouraging men to fight for the rights of their sisters and future daughters is the only way FGM and other forms of violence against women can be eradicated. By bringing together young men and women through sports, the Warriors and Ladies are advocating for positive social change and becoming part of the solution.


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