My first Funeral in Kisii: Memories versus Facts

As I turn 26 in three weeks, I have only attended one funeral, maybe two though the first one wasn’t attended fully.

I was 8-9 years old. After 5 years of not going to Kisii, we were told that we were making a trip there. We sat facing each other in the back of that covered-pickup (no other way of describing it). My mom’s eyes were red. There was a dark brown coffin on the roof. She died, the grandmother. I wasn’t saddened but it was strange. The next day people would enter a certain small room near the entrance of my grandfather’s house look at something that looked forbidden and walk out sadder than they entered. My mom entered too and when she came out, they talked in hush tones with my dad being careful no one heard them. When they were busy looking around not be heard, I sneaked into that windowless room and saw the face of a sleeping grandmother through the glass of that coffin.

She said she was sad that the mother in law had to die so young. The incidence at the small room which still exists to today was that they said she had bloated suspecting that she was killed through witchcraft. When I think about it now, I think she was just in the middle of going through the faces of rotting.

People were gathered at the school’s compound which was beautifully green and it was noisy from the songs being played. Nothing much was going on, we (me and my sister) were hungry so we left to quench our boredom with the assistance of our two cousins who knew their way around Kisii and the language. I remember climbing a big guava tree due to experience from the avocado tree we had back in Thika. I can’t remember eating them but it was fun throwing them down for someone to pick then. We hadn’t passed through the main entrance but jumped over the wooden walls. The owner walked out and said something that made my cousins flee so we followed suit. After a long day of eating guavas, we got home to a quiet place where things had died down.

Apparently it was early and they were waiting for people to flock in as the hole that would be used to bury was being made. That compound is still a school where a big chunk of it was donated by my family and it’s still green to today and known as Inani/gionseri primary school. I learnt later that we were stealing guavas yet we didn’t know. We thought that those are our relatives and it’s totally okay to share.

This was my last time in Kisii until when I was 25 where I asked deliberately to be shown where I come from.

Kisii Highlands