Villagers turned up in numbers on October 17, to witness the burial of Musikari Kombo’s brother from the Balunda clan whose elaborate burial preparations and ceremonies demonstrates a belief in the cosmology of the living dead and the ancestors.

The Balunda clan is among the Bukusu sub tribe whose primary residence is in Bungoma and spreads to other lower parts of Busia, Kakamega and Trans Nzoia Counties.

The chairman of the Balunda clan, Enock Sirengo in an interview with NTV, narrated the brief history of their unique culture which dates back to their leader “Mulunda.”

Why Bukusu Tribe Bury Their Dead While Seated

A file image of a burial ceremony

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“He (Mulunda) had gone to graze his livestock in the field. During the evening, the villagers saw the cattle coming back home alone, so they began looking for the old man who had been in a debilitated state.

“The villagers soon found the old man dead on an anthill. His children and friends decided to bury him where he died, in his sitting position,” Sirengo said.

During the burial there are also a few factors taken into consideration before the coffin is lowered to the grave.

For the dead to be buried, the rainmakers are called upon to perform their traditional dance in case there is no rain.

The body is then lowered to the grave in a sitting position with a white cloth covering what is the coffin.

“The white cloth symbolizes the branches and leaves placed upon the anthill where he (Mulunda) died,” said Sirengo.

The Bukusu tribe is widely known for their ceremonies which are meant to prepare for the dead’s departure and life after with the ancestors. 

The funeral preparations and burial rites among the Bukusu are performed according to the level of the dead for instance according to the gender, social status, leadership, clan from which the dead hails.

A person who holds a very high social status is accorded a hero’s funeral as a mark of reverence for the virtue that defined his life. The former Vice President of Kenya, Hon. Kijana Wamalwa was accorded such revered burial rites.

A procession was led by Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, in London to perform a Bukusu cultural practice on the death site of the deceased.

Why Bukusu Tribe Bury Their Dead While Seated

The former Vice President of Kenya, the Late Kijana Wamalwa.

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They performed a ritual called khulotia, which involves slaughtering a ram at the site of death, and pouring of blood in order to appease the death.

On September 28, President increased the number of persons allowed to attend weddings and funerals from 100 to 200 in new COVID-19 measures.

The announcement was anteceded by the COVID-19 national conference that was attended by various key stakeholders.  

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