Kalenjins don’t die: The mystery of death among the Kalenjins
2 months ago, 12 Oct 13:41
Death is often shocking, mysterious and feared by many. For years, humanity has struggled to understand just why death strikes indefinitely when least expected but no conclusive answer has ever been arrived at.
We all know for sure that it is not guaranteed for one to be born but it is a must for every living human being to die at one time.
But among the Kalenjin people mostly found in the expansive Rift Valley, death, in itself, does not really exist.
According to a narration by Kireger Arap Kisorion who is a resource person at Gotab Gaa in Mosoriot, Nandi County, death is merely a transition to another world.
Among the Kalenjin, he says, the dead are assumed to be residing underground where their movements are felt through tremors and earthquakes which the locals call girgirenet.
As per Kalenjin beliefs, an earthquake or a tremor is caused by the movement of the dead as it is assumed they are migrating to another place even though the reason behind this movement is not yet known to the living.
What is known, he says, is that the earthquakes are a sign that the ancestors are angry.
He reveals that the dead always fight back viciously through earthquakes whenever members of the community engage in immorality warning it could be destructive.
Interestingly, if one does not feel a tremor, it is a sign that his ancestors were not among those moving underground.
As proof that the departed never die, 80-year-old Elizabeth Koibei from Kisabei village explained that the living used to drop food on the floor or ground before any meal for the deceased to eat.
This practice, she said, was to appease the spirits of the dead as they (the dead) came first and need to be given priority.
She laments that with the advent of Christianity and adoption of western culture, this practice has been abandoned and thus angered the ancestors.
To support her assertions, she says nowadays farmers do not harvest good yields and animals dies mysteriously.
Koibei dismisses those who explain to her that the reason behind poor yield and deaths of animals is due to diseases saying it is all lies as she wonders why all these never happened during her childhood days.
To her, this is clear manifestation that the dead are angry at the living and have send calamity in form of the mysterious diseases.
And more calamity is coming, Koibei warns. Scary, isn’t it?
We ask why and with a gaze that goes past the horizon and beyond vision ability, she says it is because the current generation has abandoned what she termed ‘memory naming.’
And she blames Christianity.
Dire consequences await the current generation for refusing to name their new borns after their departed kin and adopting Christian way of life, she warns.
She knows of a family that had to name their child after a departed relative after being visited by hardships, she tells us.
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