Of Burials and Cultures

If you come from where I come from (or from any of those communities in Kenya where football and politics are taken a bit too seriously), then this is definitely for you.. Maybe we can borrow a leaf or two or even the whole damn tree from our brothers and sisters from other communities.

“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.”

So says the good book in 1st Thessalonians. The dwelling point here is the ‘with hope’ bit. With hope….

So a good friend recently lost a loved one, and having suffered the same a few years ago, I fully understood the importance of having friends around you when you feel your heart is giving in. I travelled to the former Rift valley Province (Lets not get into the county bit for now) for the burial. It took this ceremony to make me realise I hadn’t really attended burial ceremonies that were not of my kinsman. Now,  I talk not of funeral Services majorly held in church. I mean the burial ceremony held up country. The very important African rite of passage – or if you may, beatification, in its own rite – but thats a story for another day.

If you come from where I come from, the quoted Bible text is for you. Not for our friends from the former Rift Valley Province. “Why??” You ask… Well your just about to find out.

So on our way to the homestead, where the late was to be laid to rest, we were not met by wailing crowds as is the norm where I come from. There was only a handful of people on the roadside who quietly watched as we passed by. No uprooting of bushes, no loud wails and screams from people who barely knew the deceased. Just people peacefully watching. I have never associated burials with silence so this was a pleasant surprise.

When we got to the homestead, there was no drunk man dancing off tune to some painfully loud vernacular music. Coming to think of it, why is there always a drunk man dancing somewhere near the casket where I come from?. The coffin was carried to the house silently. Not a site of some old granny struggling between her sobs and an own composition in honor of the deceased. No viewing of the late – till the next day, which by the way, was the burial day. If this was where I come from, the casket would be outside, and everyone coming would pass and view probably as they talked to the deceased. Yes, you cannot tell my kinsmen that the dead know nothing. Where I come from, the immediate family members of the female gender, that would be the mother or grandmother of the deceased would sit around the casket, but this was not the case here. Seated around the casket were men, who by the way did not seem old at all.

Of course, there was not much going on outside so we all got into the house. Dinner, if you may, was served by gentlemen as ladies sat quietly. This amazed me truly. I did not think this could happen anywhere on this side of the planet. Somebody get me a husband from this region. ‘Ninaomba Serikali.’

So there was no overnight vigil and the following day, anyone who cared to announce their arrival by wailing was quickly carried away. No wailing here.. just let your tears flow. No sounds..

At the end of it all, I was left wondering how mourning styles were different. How far we were from claiming that our cultures had long since died. How unique we all really are.

My friend, such is life…

And nobody is complaining.

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