Elders say families may have to bury logs, sheep as bodies won’t be recovered

The wreckage of the Ethiopian Airline that killed 157 people. (Maxwell Agwanda, Standard)
Families of the aircraft crash victims are facing the reality that they may never see the bodies of their loved ones.

According to elders from the Luo community, the families maybury logs as is the tradition.

Chairman of the Luo Council of Elders Nyandiko Ongadi said the community prefers burying the log of a tree locally referred to as orindi. The tree grows along the shores of Lake Victoria and swampy areas.

Orindi is preferred because it resembles the body of a human being due to its soft and light nature. It is cut into pieces that are two or three feet and placed in the grave.

However, Mr Ongadi said if orindi is not readily available, any other tree can suffice.

The log can either be prepared on the day of the burial or a day earlier before the grave is dug. A ceremony is held during the burial to indicate love for the person who died.

“Other cultural practices like slaughtering of animals are done when the log is being buried. The assumption is that people are burying the person who died,” Ongadi said.

The reason why a log is buried is to create memory of the deceased.

“The grave in which the log is placed serves as a remembrance of the person who died,” he added.

And according to the chairman of Gusii Council of EldersAraka Matundura, the community used to slaughter a sheepand bury it with intestines when the body of the deceased was not found.

One of the crash victims, Ann Mogoi Birundu hails from Kisii.

“Things have changed but initially a sheep would be slaughtered, intestines removed and buried. This mostly applied in cases where somebody was swept away by water and the body never recovered,” Matundura said

However Kisii County Director Culture, Obino Nyambane said the families have the option of burying the ashes collected at the site of the accident.

“It is not something an individual will have to decide; the family and elders should be given time to decide on how to bury the remains of their loved ones,” Nyambane said.

On Wednesday, Ethiopian Airlines reported that no bodies will be recovered from the site where Flight ET 302 crashed. The announcement has caused panic among the bereaved families, some of whom had gone to Ethiopia to identify the bodies.

The airline announced that virtually none of the bodies of the 157 people, including 32 Kenyans, who perished in the Ethiopian Airlines crash will ever be recovered.

Grieving relatives and friends who flew to Addis Ababa with hopes of identifying the bodies are devastated.

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Luo Council of EldersNyandiko OngadiEthiopian AirlinesPlane Crash