SAFETY MEASURES

Virus control measures alter common Luhya practices

Community struggles to adopt new greeting styles after handshakes were discouraged.

In Summary
  • Religious leaders in Kakamega agree with public health officials to enforce restrictive measures.
  • Restrictions include use of microphones, the holy sacrament and use of drums in worship.
A section of the clergy from Kakamega county during a meeting with Governor Wycliffe Oparanya on Tuesday, March 17
PRECAUTIONS: A section of the clergy from Kakamega county during a meeting with Governor Wycliffe Oparanya on Tuesday, March 17
Image: HILTON OTENYO

The preventive measures issued by national and county governments to contain the Covid-19 outbreak threaten common practices among the Luhya.

Members of the community are struggling with adoption of the new greeting styles after handshakes were discouraged.

“Though it’s difficult to change overnight from what one is used to, we are appreciative and struggling to conform to the measures aimed at stopping the spread of the virus,” Jeremiah Okova said yesterday.

Religious leaders in Kakamega on Tuesday held a day-long meeting with public health officials and resolved to enforce restrictive measures to check the spread of the virus.

Some of the restrictions include the use of microphones, the holy sacrament and the use of drums in worship.

Pentecostal churches that cherish praise and worship are the worst-hit by the new regulations.

“From today on, we have decided to cooperate with the government in enforcing these regulations so that we are not blamed later. We shall preach without microphones and the sitting arrangements will be altered in our churches to comply with the one-metre space required,” Nicholas Olumasayi, chairman of the Kakamega county religious group, said.

Even at funerals, preaching will be without the use of microphones, Olumasayi said.

Churches with many members will have to hold several services to allow for seats to be arranged one metre apart for the next one month.

Olumasayi urged the government to provide sanitizers to the majority poor to ensure effective compliance with the regulations.

"We have people who cannot afford sanitizers. They should not be left to die because they can't afford them," he said.

Meanwhile, traders defied an order for closure of all open-air markets in the county by Governor Wycliffe Oparanya on Monday.

It was business as usual in all open-air markets across the county yesterday despite the directive.

Traders said they could not stay home as directed because they have no other source of income to support their families.

“Oparanya cannot ask us to stay home without giving us any contingency plan yet it is he who ordered the demolition of people’s businesses. We’re waiting for him to come and tell us if he will do shopping for us to eat while at home,” a trader said.

Edited by Henry Makori