Luo feasting customs threatened due to cholera outbreak
04 March 2016, 13:38
Siaya County – Due to a cholera outbreak in Siaya County
health officials have expressed the intention to ban eating at funerals causing
a major outcry from elders, reports Standard Media.
According to the elders feasting at a funeral is considered
an important Luo custom which allows respect to the deceased.
Others have said funerals are the only places they can get a
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Sub-counties within Siaya; Ugunja, Ugenya, Gem and Alego has
so far claimed the lives of nine people and 180 seeking medical care.
Since the outbreak County Director of Health, Dr Samwuel
Omondi has since forbidden eating at funerals and hawking of food.
A concerned 74-year old older, Odhiambo Okello said that, “It
is not a burial until the community eats and failure to provide food might
anger the dead who could haunt us by demanding a better send-off.”
He added that, “If we do not cook at a funeral, we’ll invite
misery into our village.”
Another elder, Johannes Ochieng they would cook and eat
privately in order to respect the tradition.
“We have to cook and eat because that is our tradition. The
law should not interfere with our culture, especially those that link us with the
dead,” said the 77-year-old.
Initial reports by the Daily Nation indicated that malaria
had been reported in the area in September last year where Omondi predicted that the number
was likely to increase.
“With the re-emergence of cholera in the region, we are calling
upon the residents to observe cleanliness and avoid public eateries. If anyone
wants to be safe from the disease, drink treated water and encourage the use of
toilets,” he said.
Meanwhile the cultural practice has received some criticism saying
that the family is now burdened with providing such a big feast, draining their
St Peter’s Anglican Church in Siaya advised that, “Times are
changing very fast and the Luo community must adjust accordingly. Today,
mourners can carry packed lunch and water to avoid diseases like cholera,” said
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