FIRST STILL ON SCENE

Family camps by river as search for second drowned daughter cancelled

Luo tradition dictates that when people drown together, their bodies should leave the scene together after retrieval.

In Summary

•  On Monday, local drivers suspended the search for Akoth due to safety concerns.

• Chief says exercise was called off because people who were involved have no special training on locating things underwater

Residents near River Kuja where two siblings drowned in Ndhiwa constituency on September 13, 2020
BOUND BY TRADITIONS: Residents near River Kuja where two siblings drowned in Ndhiwa constituency on September 13, 2020
Image: ROBERT OMOLLO

A family in Koguta in Homa Bay's Ndhiwa constituency is in grief after their two children drowned in River Kuja last Friday.

The daughters of John Obilo - Janet Akoth, eight, and Winnie Awino, 15- were swept away and drowned when they went to fetch water from the river.

Over the weekend, residents helped the family retrieve Awino's body but did not get Akoth.

 

On Monday, local drivers suspended the search for Akoth due to safety concerns.

The girls were pupils at Ondati Primary School in Ndhiwa.

The family is currently camping next to the river with hopes of finding the body. 

“Divers together with residents helped us to locate Awino’s body on Saturday. We’re staying with Awino’s body near the river until her sister's body will be found,” Obilo said.

According to Luo tradition, when two or three people drown at once, their bodies are supposed to leave the scene together after retrieval. 

This means the family can neither take the body of Awino for burial or move it away from the river before Akoth’s is found.

Obilo said volunteers cited dangers of drowning in the river following increased rainfall.

 

“Some of the people who were helping me locate the body of my daughter left on Sunday evening saying water level in the river had increased and they risked drowning if they continued with the exercise,” the father said.

The family has called on disaster management officials in Homa Bay to intervene. 

Chief George Awuoche said the exercise was called off because people who were involved have no special training on locating things underwater.

“Volunteers who are trying to locate the body are locals who don’t have adequate experience. We had to stop the search to allow the river waters to get calm,” Awuoche said.

Edited by R.Wamochie