By Bahari Sans
Kenya is one of the countries in Africa whose habitants speak close to 42 different languages. It’s a beautiful country with beautiful weather. This has been occasioned by the fact that the equator makes its way right through this amazing country. It also borders the Indian Ocean and has opened doors to numerous cultures. Tourism is one of the largest income earners each given year. Many tourists come to sample the beautiful weather, get close to the big five and get a feel of the diverse cultures from here. The people here are friendly and many people from other countries have their second homes here.
Today we want to look at a group of people known for their diverse culture spread around Lake Victoria. The Luo have also spread to Tanzania but are a people whose culture and beliefs still have strong roots. History tells us they originated from Sudan and settled around the lake because of their love for fishing and cattle keeping. The Luo people are very interesting, they still hold on to some cultural values that many people around them find outdated. But in essence, a closer look will prove one wrong.
These groups of people still have attachment to their dead and believe that there are no natural deaths. When a death occurs in a family – fingers will definitely be pointed to a neighbor or even a distant family member regarding the death. The treatment they give to a dead person is amazing. A dead body must spend a day or two in their houses before it is finally buried. Families, despite their financial status, will go to great lengths in ensuring that the dead are given a proper send off. They will ensure that each visitor to the home is provided for with a meal or something to drink.
The dead is accorded a hero’s welcome. It is quite easy to tell when a body gets from the morgue on its way to the home. Relatives and friends will walk a long distance to ensure that they meet the hearse and convoy at a distance as a sign of respect. They are on most occasions accompanied by animals. These are people that still mourn traditionally and wailing is not new to them. A visitor would be forgiven to think that this is strange. It is part of their life and they do it with all the respect it requires.
Finally, Christianity has brought a lot of changes but wives of the dead are still required to undergo ‘ter’ which in other words mean remarriage. This is done to cleanse the home of bad omens and secondly, to help extend the dead man’s family. Children born out of such remarriages remain children of the dead man and carry his name to their death bed. The ‘jater’ as he is known knows that he has no attachment to such children. Funerals here are a public affair and anybody can walk in. Polygamy is also still rife amongst the Luo, it definitely is nothing new and it runs in many homes.