• When a person is dead, there is a second burial held 40 days later to remove him from the spirits and send him to the ancestors.
• "A grave is dug at a location where he would have been buried if the body was available and all rituals performed.
If there is anyone penning down a list of Kenyan communities and how they regard their traditions, the list will be incomplete without mentioning the Luhya.
The Luhya have a rich culture.
They abide by their numerous traditions that more often than not have for instance made their funerals the very expensive.
The Luhyas believe that the dead watch over the living.
The Maragoli sub-tribe believes that a dead person has to be escorted from the world of the spirits to the world of ancestors from where he or she will be able to watch over the living.
“When a person is dead, there is what is called a second burial (Luvego) ceremony that occurs 40 days after the death to remove him from the spirits and send him to the ancestors.
"During this time bulls are slaughtered and the relatives feast with songs and dance so the dead feels you still value him or her,” said Prof Egara Kabaji.
Kabaji said that if one kills his sibling, he must be banished from the community because he is considered a murderer and therefore unclean.
Godfrey Wakhu from the Batsotso sub-tribe said that when a family member disappears from home never to be found, his family concluded that he or she was dead and a mock funeral carried out.
“A grave is dug at a location where you would have been buried if your body was available and all rituals accompanying burial carried out including slaughtering a cow if a woman and a bull if a man,” Wakhu said.
“This was done specifically to remove the curse of people getting lost from the family so that another family member doesn’t disappear in the same manner as well as appeasing the person that his family still remembers him and would therefore not return to hound them,” he said.
In some cases, the family buried a sucker in the prepared grave. Others simply marked the grave and carried out the rituals.
Wakhu said that when a man killed another, he was banished to a faraway place since he was considered a murderer and he should not share the table with the rest of his family again.
“When this happened, the community destroyed the home of the victim including destroying his property so that he never again is one of them,” he said.
Similarly, a lot is done in the event of the death of a twin. The surviving twin is not allowed to see the body of his twin or the inside of the grave. If this happens you will die.
If one of the twins is still alive, he or she is not allowed to even know where the grave of the twin sister/ brother is because they will die if this happened.
“The graves in such events are covered with blankets or banana leaves until they disappear,” said Ndeta Chimasia.
Traditionally, twins were considered a bad omen and the nurse normally killed one on delivery in what would look like a stillbirth.
"And if the nurse decided that the twins survive, elderly women would then look for herbs which was administered to the twins so that they grow into adults,” Ndeta said.
Prof. Egara Kabaji, a Luhya of Maragoli descent said the traditions are part and parcel of the community and cannot be done away with.
“We can’t run away from our traditions because they mean a lot to us as a community, he said yesterday.
He said that Christianity has been bastardised in the sense that there are things the community must first do traditionally before practising Christianity.
“We do these things and then ask Christians to pray for us,” he added.
When you are born, we give you a name because it has something to do with our spirits or ancestors.
This is why you cannot just be given a name from anywhere.
Kabaji said that the Luhya traditions are all about how the community does its things in life and it’s what differentiates it from others.
Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya has in the recent past asked residents to re-evaluate some of the traditions and ascertain their values.
Oparanya has argued before that although traditions were important in fostering society, some of them are outdated and should be discarded.
“We must not remain entrapped in the old time warp that has been overtaken by events,” he said in response to the debate that was sparked by reports that Banyala elders wanted four of the five quintuplets born of the late Evelyn Namukhula in Kakamega killed in line with their tradition.