Funeral ceremonies bring together people to celebrate the life of the deceased. Different communities in Kenya have varied practices performed in such situations.
As such, these mourners consist of people from different walks of life that share relations with the dead. They tend to behave in manners that quite stand out. Often they are hilarious, questionable and critiqued in the public domain.
Here are some of the distinct characters.
These mourners for hire put up a good show at the morgue and at the burial ceremony.
They have mastered the art of branding the deceased all the good names, posing quite questionable questions to the deceased. They often sock themselves in the soil, wail at the top of their lungs and make known their pain. A hired pain by the way.
Funny enough, at the debut of East Got Talent, one participant actually went on to display his professional mourning skills.
Chances are, these colleagues agreed to come to the funeral because it’s a day off, or the burial is closer to home and they could use the opportunity to visit the family.
Most work environments aren’t as friendly, so they are only there because the protocol requires them. Genuine colleague friends are a rarity.
The chama members
Most people are in different Chama groups. As most of them demand, if a member dies or is bereaved, then a protocol is to be observed. One thing about chamas is that gossip thrives in chamas. So most members are likely to go to the burial to evaluate the living conditions of the deceased and compare it to their lives in the city.
The church members
The church takes over the burial ceremony in most instances. Most of these members have extraordinary demands. They need tea with less sugar, laced with lemon so they can sing properly in the choir, or the church must sit under a particular type of tent. They have many, inconsequential demands that they impose on the bereaved family.
These are long-forgotten acquaintances who all of a sudden, have too much love to give it to the bereaved family. They form WhatsApp groups for the sake of the funeral, promising to keep in touch and they never do. They are always reunited with another funeral contribution.
The Aunty from abroad
Absentee family members are all over the place, sharing lovely, intimate moments that the deceased could barely remember while alive because it was a long time ago.
Most of these family members have internal wrangles with each other and are using this opportunity to check on who is doing better than the other. Or who was a better relative to the deceased?
The talkative friend
There will always be that friend who shares the secrets and stories the deceased told them in private. For the politician friend that ratted out his friend for marrying his girlfriend and the criteria, they used to marry their wives. Like why would you put your friend on blast like that?
These Kenyans enjoy bottled water among other forms of preferential treatment, simply because they come from the city. They get to have their own tent, catering experience and even mobile toilets because mingling with villagers could render them vulnerable to harm.
They could show up in printed shirts, just a little something to distinguish them from other mourners.
The Mucene bandwagon
There will always be a group of people that know what superstitious belief killed the deceased.
Usually, they can be categorized according to their beliefs. Some believe that Western medicine wasn’t the appropriate cure for the illness and that a herbalist would have done a better job. Some believe that the ancestors struck the deceased, because of something they did wrong. Or that they have been bewitched. Or God is simply punishing the deceased for their ancestors’ misdeeds that went against tradition.
The finger-pointing family members
These people want to blame each other for the death of their relative. From the ones who didn’t visit them at the hospital, to the ones that didn’t make contributions to their treatment. Often, if it’s a married man, his family is likely to accuse his wife of killing their son, with no tangible evidence.
The MC and his program
The MC is always running up and down, a timekeeper trying to remind everyone to observe time so that the burial is finished in time. He always gets into a fight over who should be allowed to speak, for what period of time and so forth. He’s the mourner with a lot of responsibility on that particular day.
These mourners are out to set standards and break a few necks while at it. They want to wear the most noticeable sunglasses or attires, want to speak in a different tone, just something to make them look extra.
These are mourners who ensure traditional practices and cultures are adhered to. For example, among the Luhya, they ensure that the grave has been positioned, according to the deceased’s clan.
The road trip gang
They most likely do not know who the deceased is, but they jumped on the opportunity to get somewhere without necessarily having to pay for transport.
They also get to enjoy free booze because that’s mostly what mourners do, drink up to celebrate the life of the deceased.
While they are actually mourning, their eyes are open to the latest trends and the who’s and who’s that are at the burial. Most importantly for them, to line up at the tent for meals and enjoy the free soda that’s passed around.
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