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North Horr chiefs plead with locals to stop discarding their dead


Tired of collecting abandoned bodies, chiefs in Illeret ward, North Horr Sub-county in Marsabit County have appealed to the locals to accord their kin decent burials.

The Daasanach do not mourn or bury those who die in unclear circumstances. They believe that doing so brings calamities to the family.

Because of fear of bringing bad omens to their families, a number of bodies have been found dumped in the bushes, forcing chiefs to step in. The families sometimes cut the hair, the only thing they take home. They then cover the body with leaves and desert it.

Area Assistant County Commissioner Arthur Wanyoike affirmed that such bodies are left to be eaten by hyenas or swept away by floods.

Some fall into the hands of traditional doctors who normally mutilate them for witchcraft.

“Recently, a body was exhumed and the head had been cut off. From what I have heard, the powder from the crushed bones is used to determine the gender of an unborn child.

It is applied on the nose of an expectant mother and if she sneezes, it is a sign she will have a boy and if she doesn’t, she will have a girl.”

The Daasanach believe they can only bury someone who dies from natural causes. The burial is done immediately as there is no mortuary to keep their departed kin.

“We don’t know about mortuaries as we have never had one. The weather doesn’t give us room to stay with the body, it’s too hot,” said a resident who identified herself as Zaitun.

“When one dies in unclear circumstances, we are not allowed to get closer to the body.”

She claimed it was normal to stumble on a body while walking. Kute, an elder, said in most cases, people desert the area as it is considered unclean.


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