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Checkout 10 Weird Cultural Practices In Kenya

Kenya is made of 42 tribes, all co-existing to make one great community; the Kenyan community.

These communities, each enjoy a rich cultural heritage which defines them in one way or the other, making them unique and distinct from the rest.

While the communities that own these cultures enjoy them in one way or the other despite some already being abolished and abandoned, other communities find them to be a bit bizarre, controversial and very odd.

Here is a list of some of the weird cultural practices that identify some Kenyan communities.

1. Spitting

Spitting could be taken as a normal thing and not bizarre as the headline suggest. But hold on, this one will throw you off the chair. And perhaps disgust you wholesomely. Among the Maasai community greetings among friends involve spitting on each other.

When a new baby is born, Maasai men spit on it saying it is bad. They believe that if they praise the child they will curse it to a bad life.

Maasai warriors also spit on their hands before they greet elders. This, they believe, is a sign of respect.

2. Funeral Ceremonies

Funeral ceremonies among the Luo community in Nyanza region have literally been commercialized. They are characterized with intense mourning, destruction of property, feasting and exorbitance.

It gets even more intense if the deceased was a wealthy person in the community. A large number of mourners will flock his homestead, set up a kitchen quickly, cry loud and feast on his property especially livestock. They believe that the livestock is of no use if it couldn’t save the deceased from death.

Professional mourners have mastered the art of mourning according to what they are likely to get when the feasting begins.

Then there is pure disco and finding potential lovers during the funeral ceremonies.

3. Bringing The Deceased’s Spirit Home

It happened recently when well-known Kenyan leaders flew all the way to England to ‘bring back home’ the spirit of the late Vice President Michael Kijana Wamalwa.

It is a practice among the Bukusu community in western Kenya where they believe that if a person dies away from home, their spirit must be brought back home to rest to avert any possibility of being taunted by the deceased.

It is a cultural practice that most Kenyans came to learn of when Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa and former minister Mukhisa Kituyi flew out to London to bring the late Wamalwa’s spirit home.

A ram is slaughtered at the deceased place of death, then items are picked from there to be placed on his/her grave.

A bull is then taken out of his compound and returned to symbolize his spirit arriving home. It is then slaughtered at the graveside.

4. Spitting On Bewitched Persons

It is yet another very bizarre cultural practice among the Abagusii people of Nyanza. It is, however, done to help those who have been bewitched.

Here, witchcraft is a common practice but whoever suspected to be one is always rounded up and set on fire. Most Kisiis believe that witches are up to no good and that they are the reason people don’t prosper in the region.

Among the things the witches do is to render their victims dumb, taking away their voices in what is believed to be a way to silence them from revealing them to the community.

To help the bewitched person get back their voice, villagers spit on them and if the witch does, the voice is restored. The victim is then able to point out the witches and they are lynched if authorities are not around to save their lives.

5. Chasing Away An Exhumed Corpse

It happens mostly among the Luhya community in Western Kenya. How it happens is purely bizarre.

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In 2012, a family in Bungoma mistakenly took a body from a mortuary in the area after reports reached them that their son had been lynched for being suspected to be a thief. The father arrived in Bungoma District Hospital mortuary and identified his son’s body. He arranged and had it buried.

Several days later, it emerged that their son was alive when he came home one evening. One resident who saw him on the way home yelled loudly as she ran away, believing it was his spirit. When other residents came, they realized it was true this boy was alive.

As it is, he was prevented from getting into the homestead. He spent a few days on the road, staying there waiting for the wrong body to be exhumed. Residents avoided him like plague all along as it is the tradition.

And when the body was finally exhumed by the police, the most bizarre incident happened. Residents took twigs, leaves and stones and chased away the exhumed body, yelling on top of their voices all in the name of chasing away the evil spirit.

Some even ran faster than the police car ferrying the exhumed body.

6. Female Genital Mutilation

A very weird and discouraged practice among some Kenyan communities. FGM is highly discouraged and whoever found practicing it is liable for a jail term. However, there are those who still do it secretly because of the beliefs they harbor about the same.

Among the Kisii community, FGM has greatly reduced as the community gets more and more enlightened about the same.

But do you know why it was practiced and why those who practice it still do so? Well, conservatives believe that by mutilating the genitalia of a girl child, her sexual activeness will be highly tamed. Girls are mutilated to render them less active sexually.

Bizarre indeed.

7. Setting on Fire Suspected Witches

It only happens in Kisi, Kenya. Suspected witches are rounded up and set on fire. Witchcraft among the Kisii people is believed to be the source of all misfortunes that befall the community.

But the most bizarre thing is that most people believe that witches are the elderly people in the community. So any time they suspect one they lynch them by setting them on fire and destroying their property.

A lynched suspect is not always allowed to be buried in the village. Residents will always object this and what happens mostly is that their remains are buried in a government cemetery.

In 2009, a wave was quickly sweeping across the Kisii region as almost every elderly person was a suspect. The government moved in to tame the happenings when a number of them lost their lives through lynching.

8. Night-Running

It happens in some parts of Nyanza and especially among the Luo and Kuria communities of Migori and Homa Bay Counties. Even though it has since been abolished, there are those who find pleasure in the practice.

They strip naked and run all night before returning to their homes as dawn beckons.

9. Circumcision Ceremonies

The circumcision ceremonies among the Bukusu community in Western Kenya are some of the most bizarre incidences that find their way into this list.

Here, the young men strip naked, put on loin cloths and paint their bodies with ashes. They then move from one village to another as they dance and sing. They are also subjected to very harsh conditions before their foreskin is chopped off. Among these include sitting in cold water, whipping and being brutally circumcised.

10. Burying The Dead

Unlike the usual way of burying the dead looking upwards, the Teso community buries their dead colleagues lying sideways with clasped palms underneath the cheeks. The body then faces the deceased’s homestead.

The Teso believe that placing the body this way gives the deceased peace of mind.

 

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Written by How Africa

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