Meet the Luhya clan that buries the dead while seated; Here’s why

Most communities in Kenya are known to bury their dead while asleep in the coffin. However, the Balunda clan among the Bukusu sub-tribe in the Luhya community have a different culture where the dead are buried while seated in the coffin.

It’s perceived that the Balunda clan are the rainmakers that’s why when they are being burred, it must rain before they seat in the grave.

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 Mulanda”.

While speaking to the media in a previous interview, the chairman of Balunda clan Mzee Enock Sirengo narrates how they came to adopt this type of culture.

“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.

Mulunda was a peasant farmer who one day went grazing his livestock in the fields as was his routine.

Being old and feeble, he often sat in the bushes to enjoy the shade against the hot sun.

And when the sun went to sleep and the old man had not returned home, his kinsmen went in search of him.

Shock on them, they found him dead seated, his cows and goats were still grazing.

“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.

In line with Bukusu burial rites, Mulunda was taken home and interred. But after few days, it is said he ‘came through a dream’ to one of his family members.

Among the Bukusu, this kind of dream where dead people come to those alive to pass on a message are known as kamaroro ke bamakombe.

In this dream Mulunda’s mesage was simple. He was angry that he had been buried prone while he had died while seated. Apparently, curiously no one took the dream seriously. Up to until, it is said, when members of his family started one after the other, dying mysteriously.

The mysterious deaths, occasioned old men of the clan to exhume the body of the late Mulunda and prepare a special grave. Oral literature has it that some rituals were performed to appease his soul. Thereafter, he was reburied according to his wishes: whilst seated.

And this is how it came to be that the Balunda clan of Babukusu bury their kin while seated.

To date, as I witnessed with Musikari Kombo’s elder brother sometime in October of 2020, men of the Balunda clan are buried seated. Wives married into the Balunda are also buried in a sitting position.

However, daughters born to the Balunda never get the privilege of this special burial. This is because according to Bukusu Marriage Customs, girls only get married outside their clans.

Therefore, the queens Balunda get buried according to the customs of the clans of their husbands.

Source: Mulembe Nation

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