In the Luhya culture, a person committing suicide by drowning is considered a great taboo, and a esilamo (curse ) that should be cleansed so as not to ‘follow’ members of the victim’s family.
First of all, a person who identifies a drowned body should do as fast as to walk into the home of the dead and get someone to identify the corpse. Upon confirmation, the victim’s kinsmen give an animal or money to the identifier as a token of appreciation.
The identifier should then be cleansed (okhulombwa) to rid them of the curse of the drowned person, and should not walk into their home before this is done.
After the corpse has been identified, it is tied and special divers constituted to retrieve it from the water.
Elders (avakofu) from the family of the drowned person then quarrel the corpse, reprimanding the dead person of being such a coward, curses him/her and gives them a thorough beating to chase away the evil spirit of suicide and as a warning to whoever wants to copy the behavior.
Afterwards, a black ram is slaughtered and its blood (amatsai) sprinkled on the dead person’s head. This is done by selected people from ebukhochawe (his/her matrimonial uncles).
The body is then buried at night behind the main house, probably in the banana farm, without any honorable rituals.
– Researched and prepared by Sam Oduor