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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 decent meal.

Also read: Govt tackling poverty by sending teen mothers back to school.

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 finances.

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 the reverend.

- News24


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