- ODM leader Raila Odinga has called for a paradigm shift on how burials are conducted if the country is to contain the virus.
- The Luo and the Luhya have elaborate burial ceremonies marked by heavy feasting and attended by hundreds, sometimes thousands.
ODM leader Raila Odinga has called for a paradigm shift in burial practices if the country is to contain the coronavirus.
Speaking in an interview with a vernacular radio station on Friday morning, Raila said it is time to review the way burials are conducted, especially among the Western Kenya communities.
The Luo and the Luhya have elaborate burial ceremonies marked by heavy feasting and attended by hundreds, sometimes thousands.
But Raila said the country is going through a serious health emergency, which is capable of wiping out an entire population. He warned people against dancing with death by blatantly disregarding the laid-down government directives on curbing the disease.
He urged families to consider interring those who die in hotspots with movement restrictions in cemeteries to avoid spreading the virus to the villages.
“Those who die in Nairobi should be buried here. The original Luo culture was against carrying bodies to the villages, especially those who died away from home.”
The former Prime Minister said Covid-19 is a dangerous enemy that should be fought in all ways, describing it as a "world war without bombs".
He urged the people to cooperate with the government as some of the mitigating measures would mean suspension of human rights as provided for in the Constitution.
“There was no war which claimed more than 2,000 on a particular day. The 2010 Constitution is applicable during normal times but in situations of national emergencies, some of the privileges and rights are put aside to save lives,” he said.
The ODM leader was speaking a day after it was reported that some seven people in Siaya county tested positive.
On Thursday, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe revealed that the seven cases were all from Ugenya and were all traced back to a mourner who travelled from Kibera in Nairobi for a burial.
“Someone signed the document that allowed this mourner to travel. It was inspected by police all the way from Kibera to Siaya,” Kagwe said.
Raila appealed to Kenyans, especially those in areas on partial lockdown, to resist the urge to travel home for burials during this crisis.
"Your presence [at burial ceremonies] will not bring back the dead to life. Let's not endanger our people, we'll have a chance to pay our last respects after we shall have contained the virus,” he said.
"You leave Kibra, travel all the way to the village and you are infected. You have now taken the virus home. Let people not push the government to take stern action, which may include complete lockdown.”
Raila spoke a day after the country recorded a spike in the number of Covid-19 cases, with 80 new cases recorded on Thursday, the highest figure so far on a single day.
The former PM, however, told Kenyans not to panic but continue observing Health ministry’s directives, which include thorough and regular handwashing with soap, sanitising and using face masks in public places.
Edited by F'Orieny