postheadericon At the funeral

Last Thursday, a brother of my Tanzanian baba (father) has died. On Saturday was the funeral, traditionally Luo (the main tribe in Mara). I asked mama if I could help somehow – for sure I donated a big sack of rice as people usually do if they can afford it – and she told me to be on the shamba (farm) on Saturday morning because she could use any help.

On this shamba, there are two small houses, one made of bricks and one traditionally built round. There are no trees, no bushes, no water, no electricity, no shadow. I could never survive at a place like that. In the morning, about 100 women were building up fire places and started to cook. Some men digged the grave and others slaughtered cows and goats. The chicken and ducks were killed by the women. Until the ceremony started at around 3 p.m., we were cooking, serving all the guests (approx. 500 people), washed dishes and so on. That was really hard work: there was no shadow, a strong wind and open fires everywhere. So whatever we were working on, we’ve had smoke in the eyes and the sun burning down on us.

During the ceremony, there were prayers, speaches and songs, the mourners passed by at the open coffin and said there blessings, prayers and last good-byes. At the end of the day, my „uncle“ was buried and the guests left.

It was really special experience for me, being part of it. Mama let me work almost like the other women: cleaning rice, cutting vegetables, serving the guests, cleaning the dishes and also helping cooking ugali. Sure, she sent me to the shadow several times (but there was no shadow…) and made sure, that there was bottled drinking water or tea for me. But after a few hours, I was no longer „Mzungu“ for the women but Susan. And I could convince them, that I can clean rice and do other tasks women traditionally do here. I could experience, how hard the life on shambas like that must be – and my mama is so tough, she worked without any break, even her work already started on Thursday.

During the ceremony, one of my „cousins“ made pictures with my camera. So I have intimate impressions and photos, I could have never taken – close and private. I will give them to mama and baba and show you also some of them. Please understand, that I do not show you the most private of them. It is common here to take pictures of the body in the open coffin, of mourning relatives and so on. But I think, that should be kept in the family. Even the occasion was a really sad one, I enjoyed it – being part of this community and being able to support people directly. But I was soooo tired in the evening…

2 Responses to “At the funeral”

  • Thank you so much for telling stories from Tanzania! I really like to read about what your everyday life down there is like, and also learning about special events like this. I hope 2015 will be filled with a lot of joy, happiness and great experiences for you in your new home country.

    • Susafrika:

      Asante sana! And thank you also for giving me the adress of your blog. I hope, the Internet will soon be fast enough to see the pictures too!!! Please keep me updated with your travels. And karibu sana Shirati – anytime!

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