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TRADITION: Family buries a banana stem in place of their late dad.

The rare funeral procession for the Late Mzee Chege Kamau (INSET) where a banana stem was 'buried' in his place after a court injuction stopped his burial in Juja Sub-County.
A family in Juja Kiambu County was forced to bury a banana stem after they were denied to the right bury their 90 year old father.

Trouble started when family and friends went to the Kenyatta University Mortuary to collect the body of Mzee Chege Kamau but were instead slapped with a court injunction restraining them from burying him on the identified burial site at his Magomano farm, Theta Ward.

With the body detained and already a grave dug, elders immediately convened an impromptu meeting which resolved that the burial ceremony had to go ahead, but this time they would bury a banana stem in the place of the deceased.

“According to the Kikuyu culture, once a grave is dug, it cannot be filled without burying the deceased otherwise his ghosts will start haunting his family for not burying him on the date that had been set for the ceremony especially now that the grave has already been dug. This may cause deaths in the family and therefore we must plant this banana stem to wade off these ghosts,” explained Mzee Kariuki Wa Migwi, a Kikuyu elder.

He added that planting the banana stem with its buds symbolised life and that just as it will grow and bear fruit, the bereaved family will live and multiply. However, Migwi warned that those who defied the wishes and the will of the deceased will have themselves to blame as the wrath of his spirits may descend on them.

The ceremony was administered by only those installed as elders and had undergone all the Kikuyu traditional rituals pertaining to the same.

“No one can carry or bury this stem if they have not completed all the rituals to be installed as an elder according to the Agikuyu traditions. Deviating from these norms may result to untold calamities to those concerned,” Mzee Migwi warned.

Peter Kamau, the deceased eldest son, explained how his three sisters secretly went behind their back and obtained a court order stopping the burial of their father. The bone of contention is that the Late Mzee Chege was living with his younger wife in his Juja home and had expressed his wish to be buried there. This idea did not auger well with his daughters who are now fighting to have him buried next to their later mother’s grave in Gitwe village Gatundu South Constituency.

“My sisters have plunged us into all this mess as they have obtained an injunction stopping our father’s burial at this site. My father had made it clear about his wish and I will not be party to any of this drama nor the court case. I am off this matter. Let them do whatever they want with his remains,” said Kamau.

His sentiments were echoed by his step-mother Mary Njoki who confirmed of her husband wish to be buried in Juja.

“When Mzee died on Tuesday (30th May 2017), I called my step-son an informed him. He requested me to make arrangements to have him taken to the morgue as they were not near. The following day, my step-daughters came and insisted that we transfer the body to Gatundu but I objected. It was then that they told me to go ahead with my burial plans as they were done with me,” said the widow.

She suspects that the daughters’ objection is being driven by their wish to eject her from her late husband’s parcel of land and then repossess it. 

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